Chief executive's blog - 20 December 2013
In my personal blog, I will keep you up to date on what is happening at the Trust, sharing what I think we are doing well and what we can improve.
Fiona Dalton, chief executive
Sometimes it can be hard to keep seeing the big picture, and the long term possibilities, when the day to day operational pressures are all-consuming.
So I was delighted to visit the LifeLab on level D SGH last week, where University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton staff are collaborating to change the health of future generations.
Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and excessive drinking are factors in the development of so many of the diseases and injuries that we try to treat right across the hospital - and this team is trying to change that, by inviting groups of teenagers from local schools into the hospital to meet 'real' (!) scientists and to do experiments on their own bodies to help them understand the impact of their lifestyles on their, and their future children's, health. So, for instance, they measure the blood flow through the carotid artery and link this to blockages in the artery caused by poor diet. It sounds like a great idea, but for me the really exciting part is that the idea is being properly tested (as you would expect from 'real' scientists!). So the impact is being measured and compared against control groups of teenagers who haven't had this experience. Published data from the first small trials show that six months after visiting LifeLab teenagers were substantially (statistically significantly) more likely to understand that their current diet affects their future health and their children's health, and more likely to want to continue studying science and consider a scientific or healthcare related career.
Back to caring for today's patients, and it was a pleasure to walk round the stroke unit and talk to the clinical team there. Stroke care has changed so much over the last ten years, and is a good example of how clinical innovation can absolutely transform the treatment of a common disease. It was inspiring to me to meet a team who have delivered real change but also recognise that much more needs to be done to ensure that every one who suffers a stroke in our catchment area gets the treatment and the rehabilitation that they deserve. It was also great to hear front line staff in an acute setting talking so positively about whole system working – in particular, how the community stroke team really do “pull” patients out of the hospital, ensuring that patients get home much quicker than they used to. This is of course what we are aiming for across the whole hospital and it was good to see an example where processes were working well.
Finally, I wanted to wish everyone who works at the hospital, and all our patients, a very happy Christmas. This year I feel particularly festive because I've been to so many Christmas events! From the Taplins nursery nativity performance to the Trust carol service (led by the brilliant emergency department choir!) I've enjoyed them all very much and I've felt a real sense of community and team-work within the hospital. Most of us will be working at least some days over Christmas and New Year, but I do hope that everyone also gets some time to spend at home, with their family and friends. I'll be in the hospital on Christmas morning and will try to get round as many wards and departments as I can, but there will be many people I won't be able to talk personally to. So I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone for your hard work throughout this year, and to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.
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