We must learn lessons from the last year, says NHS chief

A Teesside health care leader has declared that if Tees NHS teams do not learn lessons from the Coronavirus health pandemic, then they cannot drive for a positive change across the region.

Chief Executive Julie Gillon in blue jacketJulie Gillon, Chief Executive for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust – a Care Quality Commission (CQC) ‘Good’ rated organisation says that the opportunity to upgrade and dedicate to more ‘aspirant population health’ for the Tees Valley is absolutely prime as the NHS starts to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Ms Gillon who started her own career as a staff nurse, spoke about how the health and care economy across the Tees Valley must now capitalise on the ‘opportunities presented by the pandemic’ in becoming more ‘ambitious and brave’ for the populations across the region.

The Tees Valley reports some of the starkest health statistics across the country, with the widening gap in health care inequities reportedly growing since the start of the pandemic. Ms Gillon has spoken openly about the challenges the past 18 months have presented for the wider NHS, but more closer to home – for her own Trust.

She said: “The changes we made when the pandemic hit – regards workforce and in particular our estate were at points exceptionally challenging. Working with an ageing estate – built for a population in the 1960’s with a progressive and innovative workforce of current times has been, quite honestly at times really heart wrenching.”

At the height of the pandemic, the organisation had to extend its critical care provision and bed space out into the hospital theatres owing to capacity, raising concerns for the staff on the ward.

Shona McInnes a domestic at NTH Solutions.Ms Gillon added: “Our colleagues are dedicated to keeping patients safe, no compromise. The changes forced upon us by the pandemic really challenged us. It makes us all too aware of what needs to change for health and care across our region.”

In a bid to harness the learning of the pandemic, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust held an event on Friday 18 June 2021. The Trust invited 100 leaders from across the organisation to join a virtual event to ‘push for progress’.

Ms Gillon said: “Our service to the people of Teesside and the surrounding areas must become even more ambitious and aspirant than ever before. The health inequalities across the region, which of course have been exacerbated by the pandemic need to be owned and addressed by everyone who can influence positive change.

Nicola Threadgold a midwife at the Trust.“For us this starts with a workforce of the future, fit to deliver a new way of helping people to simply live better. The first co-hort of 100 leaders at our event have been asked to deliver some bold, courageous changes for the Trust.

“Working in partnership with Teesside University, these members of our team will be supported to deliver something different, more befitting to this region – what our population deserves, a stronger healthier Tees Valley.”

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