Chief executive Julie Gillon recently met with staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool for a cup of coffee and a chat.
“I have recently started arranging informal drop-in meetings with staff so I can answer any questions or respond to any themes or ideas they may have. I am really pleased with how successful they have been so far.
People from across the hospital and the community came along, raising a number of very valuable points. We know that the fact that we are a trust with two main hospital sites means we need to consistently work to integrate the whole organisation together. Staff in Hartlepool raised the point that they sometimes feel separate from the rest of the trust and we know we can always do more to help everyone across our patch in Stockton, Hartlepool, Peterlee and Easington feel more integrated. This boils down to communication and events such as these, which allow the sharing of key messages and a discussion on things that matter both locally and Trust wide.
Some staff raised whether we would be working more with neighbouring trusts in the future. I explained a bit more about the committee in common we have with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, reviewing the way we care for patients and discussing how we can work together more in the future. By working together, we can improve the care and clinical outcomes for our patients.
Some staff feel more IT support is needed in Hartlepool, particularly for smart card users and to prevent unnecessary cross site travel. We do have a strong IT presence at Hartlepool but we are looking into how we can do more to help staff in Hartlepool when they experience technical issues, including timely responses.
Staff talked about the success of elective care at the Hartlepool site. The pathway we have with the access lounge, operating theatres and the joint replacement unit has been very successful and we need to continue to build on this progress.
There was some discussion around doing more promotion to the public around the treatment we are offering at Hartlepool and raising the profile. We accept we can always do more and are currently in the process of recruiting a new role for head of communications and marketing to address this.
Some staff said they believed we need to do more to get messages across to GPs in the area around the services we offer as a trust. I have asked staff present to write down their thoughts and myself and deputy medical director Chris Tulloch will take these forward. We are also planning to hold regular engagement sessions with GPs around the work we do. The first of these is next month at the University Hospital of North Tees.
Other issues were raised around things including staff sickness and also giving staff more of an input in arranging work rotas. Staff also discussed what more we can do to help patients get to and from appointments, avoiding the need for use of taxis. We do have a very successful volunteer driver scheme to help patients who have difficulty getting to hospital, but we know we can always do more to promote this to staff and the patients so that it is being used effectively.
Other issues were raised around the staff shuttle bus service between our two hospital sites. Some staff believe we need to review the service for after 6pm on weekdays. The decision to reduce the service was taken because the service was underused and it was felt this funding was better being invested directly back into patient care.there are other options, perhaps not publicized and we will, however, look into whether there is anything more we can do to help staff.
A further point was made around the need for the trust to recruit more volunteers to help aid services at Hartlepool. Staff raised the point that there may be a particular need to have a hospital welcomer at the main entrance to the building, to help any visitors with queries or directions. This is something I agree we do need and I have spoken to our volunteer co-ordinator to look into this.
One staff member also mentioned the need to do more to help the trust’s work to be a completely smoke-free organisation. Our stop smoking team is carrying out a great deal of work around raising awareness with patients and visitors about the importance of supporting us in being smoke-free and being aware of the help and support we can offer to help people quit. We are also educating staff about the need to offer all patients who smoke the option to be offered nicotine replacement therapy or a referral to the stop smoking service.
Overall, I was really pleased with how well attended the event was and with the passion staff clearly had for helping us improve as a trust. Thank you to everyone who came along – I am really proud to work with such dedicated and committed people.”