Chief Executive Stakeholder newsletter – February 2024 

Hello all,  

Our services

Industrial action 

February was an incredibly busy month across health and care, including SASH. There were a further four days of industrial action which put pressure on Trust services. In addition to our messaging signposting people to the alternative care options available locally, our consultants and other senior medical staff worked hard to ensure they were available to cover rotas and help keep our services running. 

Critical Incident 

We also declared a Critical Incident following a power failure which closed our Intensive Care and High Dependency Units (ICU and HDU). The power failure was caused by a faulty switch which, when working as it should, stops the electrical supply from tripping when a fault occurs. This ensures we can provide continuous power to critical medical equipment.  

The period following the power failure was challenging. From quickly and safely evacuating our sickest patients and working with our partners to ensure we could continue to deliver vital patient care, to contacting those affected by the decision to cancel elective procedures and risk assessing the electrical equipment in place, it was a massive team effort. An engineer attended our site on the day of the power failure to identify the problem. After a day of repair works, we were able to re-open ICU and HDU to patients the following morning. You can find out more about this incident here.  

Looking ahead, we will be focussing on recovering the appointments impacted by the action in areas such as outpatients and diagnostics, alongside reducing our waiting lists for patients needing surgery.  

Winter debrief  

As we approach the end of the traditional winter season for healthcare, over the coming weeks we will be holding debriefs across our organisation to reflect on the past few months. This will be supported by data insights across quality, workforce, activity and performance. We will also be considering what went well, what the challenges were, and what lessons we will be taking forward to better prepare ourselves for the difficult winter months when demand on our services is high. This includes working with our partners on community and mental health care as well as looking at how we work better together as a Trust on shared issues across our departments.  

Planning for 2024/25  

As we look to the end of the financial year, our planning for 2024/25 is already in full swing. This is important for ensuring we are operating in a planned and strategic way so we can meet the targets we, and the wider NHS, have set for the year ahead. There’s no doubt that next year will be tougher. We’ll be taking this early opportunity to plan our quality improvement priorities, continue to reduce the number of patients waiting for procedures and look at the size of our workforce whilst managing the competing financial pressures.  

Our partners

Sussex Discharge summit  

This month I attended a discharge summit with our Sussex system partners to discuss how we can better work together on improving our patient pathways and supporting patients – especially those who are elderly and frail - to recover at home. We know allowing people who are well enough to return to their place of residence is a key part of improving patient care and the way the health and care system can manage the large numbers of people who require care. 

East Surrey Place Discharge Collaborative 

Our SASH+ team have also been doing a lot of work in the discharge area and recently held a 90-day review of our Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) which looked at the communication of information between providers, carers and patients post-discharge. During the initial RPIW, working closely with our East Surrey Place partners, we had significant success reducing the time patients being discharged had to wait for their first review, from seven days to four. Since the RPIW, the service has also reduced the length-of-stay for patients in the care of the reablement team, from 10 weeks down to less than four weeks – which means more patients are being supported to get back to their daily lives much faster. It’s a fantastic example of the power of partnership working to improve patient care.  

Sharing resources 

Last week we hosted a conference at the Trust for non-medical prescribers. We were delighted to welcome pharmacists, paramedics, nurses and physiotherapists who are independent prescribers from all sectors of healthcare across Surrey Heartlands to hear important clinical updates and the output of research carried out over the last year. The day was a great success with overwhelmingly positive feedback, and we are looking forward to organising a similar event next year. 

Congratulations to Royal Surrey  

I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate our colleagues at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust for their outstanding CQC rating for both Royal Surrey County Hospital and its maternity services. It’s no mean feat as we all know and a fantastic achievement.  

Trust news

Essential overnight re-surfacing works  

This week we are undertaking some essential resurfacing works on Canada Avenue (the main entrance to East Surrey Hospital) to repair the recurring pothole and structural issues we have been experiencing. The works are taking place overnight tonight and tomorrow night to help reduce disruption for patients, staff, local transport and ambulances, and we have been working with SECAMB, the Council and Metrobus to help reduce any potential impact on their services. Our Canada Drive entrance/exit will remain open as normal, and there will be a diversion in place. While we have worked hard with the contractor to time these works to ensure the least amount of disruption, I appreciate there will be some unavoidable impact and we have issued some communications to help make as many people aware of the temporary works as possible. You can find out more information here

Welcoming our new non-executive director 

Finally, I am delighted to welcome Catherine Jervis, our new non-executive director and the new chair of our Audit and Assurance Committee. Catherine brings with her a wealth of experience from across the healthcare sector and we look forward to working with her in this new role. You can find out more about her on our website