Chief executive's blog - 22 April 2014
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
I've been thinking a lot recently about working together across organisations, and how fundamental it will be to UHS's future success in our increasingly complex, networked and rapidly changing world.
The sound of a helicopter circling overhead is one of the many changes over the past couple of years, and of course the helicopter is just the most obvious sign of the large, multi-organisational team that is the Wessex Trauma Network.
It's only two years since the major trauma networks were created across the country, and the results have been immediately dramatic. Nationally one in five patients who would have previously died are now surviving. And given that trauma is still the leading cause of death in children and adults under the age of 40 this is a striking example of how patients can benefit from us working together across the NHS, and from the centralisation of highly specialist services.
At the recent peer review our Wessex Trauma Network was specifically complimented on the partnership working between hospitals and ambulance services across the region. This was of course great to hear, and they also had other helpful new perspectives and suggestions which, as with all external reviews, will be very useful in continuing to help us improve.
But the network was able to take partnership work another step forward a couple of weeks later, when they held their Injury Prevention Conference. Sadly I was only able to attend for an hour, but I was fascinated to see the wider public sector - not just the NHS but also the police, coastguard and charitable organisations - working together to pool data, research and ideas to reduce accidents and injury.
Then a few weeks later I was able to attend a lecture by Professor Luca Richeldi (professor of respiratory medicine and honorary UHS consultant) and Dr Anna Barney (engineer and researcher from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton). Through this innovative partnership between medicine and sound engineering they have been able to use electronic stethoscopes to help early diagnosis of rare lung diseases, and thereby enable earlier and better treatment for patients.
Both of these examples made me think about how we can create new partnerships with a variety of organisations to truly make a difference for patients. We know that we need to work with other organisations to move forward in many ways - whether it's working with the University of Southampton to forge truly world class research collaborations, with other acute providers to develop networks to provide specialist care, or with local community and social care providers to enable patients to be treated as close to home as possible, and to help resolve our capacity problems within the hospital. Working in this way doesn’t mean we absolve responsibility but it does mean that we need to work out how to work differently across organisational boundaries.
Of course patients often don’t see or understand these organisational boundaries, and when they write to me to say thank you for their care, they often include their GP, ambulance trust, other hospitals and social services in their letter of thanks to me. I think the invisibility of organisational boundaries to patients is a sign that we have all done our jobs well – and I always try to pass on copies of these letters to the teams involved, regardless of the organisation.
This can be a communication challenge for me when large teams across many organisations are involved, but one recent letter summed up for me the importance, and simplicity, of the patient’s perspective. After a lengthy description of emergency admission and complex treatment it ended as follows:
“It would mean a lot to me if you could ensure that a copy of this letter reaches all those NHS employees who were involved in my care, for they need to be aware that I, and probably thousands of others, owe them a debt that we can never repay”.
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