Lots going on, as always. Our main concern, shared by our staff, remains the overcrowded state of our hospitals. At our recent AGM I showed that, compared to a year ago, ED attendances are up 7%, emergency ambulances up 10%, and emergency admissions up 13%. With referrals for planned care and suspected cancer also rising, it feels like we are a long way from a health service that provides more care outside of our hospitals



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Rapid improvement work


For many months we have been making strenuous efforts to resolve the emergency care pressures we are facing in all three hospitals. It feels like the health economy is overheating, with hospitals across the locality all experiencing high activity levels

Our main issue is a slowing of discharges, as evidenced by the growing number of patients who have been in hospital for more than 14 days. The increased number equates to around 3 wards, which is enough to tip the balance in a hard pressed system

It is tempting to put in extra capacity, but we know that it soon fills if there is not adequate ‘flow’ out and into social care, continuing health care, or to home. We know that ‘capacity is flow, not beds’!

Over the next 6 months, we will be running a series of focused events that are based on feedback given to us from staff on the frontline. The first event started on Monday, for two weeks, and is aimed at supporting ward based teams to unblock discharge process for those patients who have stayed in hospital for over 14 days

Once we have achieved this, and created flow, we will move to a focus on our short stay pathway, comprising of our 72 hour assessment units, ambulatory emergency care facilities, our short stay wards


This work within the hospitals will help prepare for the inevitable higher demand during winter. We’ve invested heavily in additional doctors, nurses and resources in our emergency departments to make sure we can provide safe care in a timely and efficient manner. The other crucial component of winter planning is additional capacity out of hospital – with our commissioner partners we are funding urgently needed ‘discharge to assess’ beds. More about these next time



A fantastic start to our flu jab campaign!


We’re in full swing with our staff flu vaccinations. I was one of the first in the queue to get mine last Monday, and Board members followed very quickly afterwards as the photos show!

Associate Medical Director Dr Raghuraman receives his flu jab

Associate Medical Director Dr Raghuraman receives his flu jab


We have based our communications on explaining to our staff that as well as protecting themselves from this very unpleasant illness, they are also protecting their families and vulnerable patients from flu


NED David Lock being 'jabbed' by Chief Nurse Sam Foster

NED David Lock being ‘jabbed’ by Chief Nurse Sam Foster


For those who wish to learn more, the following links to NHS Choices, or to our own website, may be helpful


Unbelievably, we vaccinated over 2500 staff members in the first week! This is brilliant, and my thanks and congratulations go to all those who have helped us make such an excellent start



Surgery reconfiguration – launch of our public consultation


Our public consultation on surgery reconfiguration started this week, with 5 meetings in total. Our team have been very busy, and there have been some really good discussions and debates

Concerns have centred on the longer term future of our hospitals, and the transport implications of any service move. Some excellent suggestions to help mitigate have been proposed already

I described the process as ‘a marathon, not a sprint’ – we have 16 weeks and will be putting on as many meetings as there is a need for. Already we have been invited to a range of local meetings and we will be pleased to attend

Our doctors have been leading on the questions, as they should be, although I notice they were quick to pass a question on car parking over to me!!

Details on the consultation including future meetings and the proposals we are making can be found here


More meetings this coming week, including a local meeting hosted by a local MP (Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell) in Sutton Coldfield on Thursday. I will keep updating!

Staff graduation ceremonies

We’re very lucky to have our own Faculty of Education within our Trust. It’s a great way for our staff to continue their professional development and it’s fantastic to see them graduate at the end of their hard work

I’ve been attending graduation ceremonies throughout the week and it’s made me very proud to share this special moment with our staff. I thought you might like to see pictures of this too – the cap throwing is such a great tradition!


Graduation cap throwing


It isn’t easy to study while working in a busy job, so many congratulations to all our graduates!


If you want to find out more about our Faculty, please do visit their website here



Recognising our staff concerns, and their excellence


Following on from my last Diary, we are still hearing a lot from staff about their concerns. It has definitely been effective to write out and encourage staff to come forward. Particular issues have been the overcrowding in our emergency areas, mentioned above, and the harsh style of management that can accompany this amount of operational pressure

Our new Staff Engagement Group has started running drop-in sessions, taking staff through some of the things that have started happening thanks to the feedback we have had. It is great to hear that lots of staff have already stopped by to provide ideas and feedback – we really do need this if we are to make the progress we are determined to make

For staff who are interested in joining the staff engagement group, or want to find out when the next drop-in sessions are, please do contact Alex on Alex.covey@heartofengland.nhs.uk


I am really looking forward to our annual Staff Recognition Award ceremony this week. Michael Collie will be joining us as host, and I know we have a humbling range of truly excellent staff in our nominations. All deserve huge credit, and those who win will have to be exceptional. I will share pictures from the evening in my next update





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