The plan sets out ambitions for a future proofed NHS with a clear focus on a digital first approach that empowers patients to get on board with this journey. It also sets a challenge for Trusts to provide better care wrapped around patients rather than buildings, to explore opportunities for closer working with partner organisations and to put measures in place to achieve a more robust workforce model.
So how does this translate into local action?
The plan has several key areas of focus, many of which are already being developed, explored and implemented here at our Trust. Our cancer care targets have improved through linking our research and screening teams to develop earlier detection and better treatment to improve patient outcomes. We have implemented an integrated urgent care service at both of our hospital sites to support the triaging care and treatment of those who attend the emergency department. This means patients getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
We continue to explore ways of helping people age well by providing care closer to home, identifying patients who need extra support, making sure that no one is in hospital longer than they need to be. Our medical, nursing and therapy teams have established a Frailty pathway which is designed to identify patients with further needs who start their journey through our hospital. The Frailty specialists work with those who need it to understand what their personal goals are, helping them to get home to a place of comfort with the necessary support in place.
In addition to this, we are working to reduce the length of hospital stays for patients across the Trust through our Integrated Discharge Team, a multi-disciplinary set up that sees cross-organisational working at its best. We are helping patients get home safer, sooner by giving them the appropriate tools for self-care as well as training community care providers to monitor patients in the home setting. This means less hospital admissions, easing the pressure on our core services.
As well as training external care providers, we have a dedicated Workforce Education department who are committed to identifying the development needs of an ever-growing workforce. Putting an apprenticeship levy in place and developing a Leadership Track journey, all of the tools are there for those who wish to embark on personal development in their role at the Trust.
Our staffing teams have also immersed themselves into a crucial recruitment project with a view to strengthening the workforce. An objective they have certainly delivered against s our nursing vacancies are currently the lowest in the country. It doesn’t stop here; we have put arrangements in place to cover the fees for Settled Status applications to support the recruitment of overseas health care professionals into our workforce. This really is a testament to our commitment to creating a Trust that is fit for the future and able to continue to deliver the best patient care.
Complimenting all of this, we are a Global Digital Exemplar Fast Follower using new technologies to digitise patient records, revolutionise the way we recruit, and ensure that staffing levels and patient flow are more efficient than ever before. We are a medium size Trust with huge ambitions and the Long Term Plan lays the foundations for even further innovation. We need to focus on how we can embrace this new technology and use it to understand and manage population health. In addition, with more and more of our surgeries being performed as day cases, how can we use technology to make hospital stays following surgery a thing of the past?
It is a long term plan for a reason and these changes will not happen overnight. With a national commitment to more funding and the opportunity to introduce more technology into healthcare than ever before, it is an exciting journey ahead for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS, one we feel we have already made great strides to embark upon.
For our Trust, our staff and for me personally – our patients, as ever remain the focal point of all we deliver. The landscape of the NHS may continue to evolve – but our unwavering dedication to outcome and safety remains firmly rooted in our services to our communities.