Hello all,

The freezing temperatures have caused a fair bit of disruption this week but once again I’ve witnessed our teams pull together to sort problems and prioritise our patients’ care. I recognise it’s been really difficult so a big thank you from me. The extended periods of sub-zero temperatures caused some problems with our boilers - we’ve got some temporary kit on site that will increase our boiler capacity and really help going forward - installation is underway. This, alongside the expected rise in temperatures next week, will make it feel much more comfortable.

This week saw us run our third SASH+ rapid process improvement workshop (RPIW) in the last four weeks. This one was all about the endoscopy booking process. More specifically we looked at improving the lead time for patients attending for a colonoscopy procedure. The team identified improvements in lead time, patient safety and experience and a new and improved process for both the booking element and the preassessment of patients. The work identified the potential to free up over 26 hours of clinical and non-clinical time. This follows hot on the heels of our RPIW on the flow of patients from the emergency department to wards which saw the team deliver a 100% reduction in handover defects. In addition, just last week we held an RPIW on the issue and activation of agency colleagues’ smartcards (our first RPIW on corporate processes). This saw a 77% reduction in lead time (within hours) and 100% reduction in lead time (out of hours) for agency staff to obtain an activated smartcard. As always we’ll now be testing these improvements over the next 30, 60 and 90 days. I am grateful to everyone involved in each of these weeks. Our culture of empowering those who do the work to improve the work is so important here at SASH. It will stand us in good stead as we go in to what will be a very busy festive period.

Graphical user interfaceDescription automatically generatedWe’ve spoken a lot recently about the demand on our paediatric services so it was brilliant to see Outwood Ward celebrate nursing assistant Francis as their star of the month. The team described Francis as a ‘pure joy’ to work with – congratulations Francis! 

This week we said farewell to Paul Biddle who has been a non-executive director here since 2014. Paul is retiring at the end of the year and I’ll really miss working with him as part of our Trust Board. He’s had a really big impact – he helped with the significant work we did on our governance structures as part of the foundation trust process a few years ago, he was part of our preparations for the CQC inspection that saw us rated Outstanding, and he has chaired our audit and assurance committee for several years. Having the right governance structures directly impacts our ability to operate effectively and ultimately makes us a safer, higher-performing organisation. Paul’s contribution to these structures at SASH has been immense. I’m very grateful to Paul for his leadership, guidance, support and challenge during his tenure and wish him the very best for the future.

I’m very grateful to colleagues for all of the work going on to prepare for a very busy period coming up. Our divisions have prepared all their plans to help us manage the festive period in the face of very high demand, and we’re liaising with partners across the system to ensure we are able to cope with any impact from the planned industrial action at ambulance services over the next couple of weeks. We’ll be focusing all of our efforts on maintaining flow and safety throughout our services. I’m also very grateful to colleagues for the planning going into our car park changes. The increased capacity will help to make things much better in a few weeks time, but I recognise it will be disruptive in the meantime. Please be assured we’re making these changes to fundamentally address the capacity issues we’ve been experiencing and I hope it makes your working life much better in 2023!

Next week our staff engagement and wellbeing team have organised the first in what will be a series of social clubs at East Surrey Hospital. Colleagues can drop in to the post graduate education centre on Tuesday between 6-9pm to meet their colleagues and have a cup of tea and mince pie – this is in direct response to people telling us they’d like more opportunities to connect with each other. The team are working really hard to put on a range of activities to support wellbeing. For example, in January weekly mindfulness sessions will begin. They will be every Friday at 8am from 6 January – you can view more information here. Colleagues can also be in with a chance of winning a wellbeing hamper every month, kindly funded through donations to SASH Charity, by spotting key phrases on our wellbeing SASHnet pages. 

Don’t forget, next week we’ll be visiting areas across the Trust on the lookout for the best Christmas decorations. We’ll be looking for any particularly impressive home-made or sustainable efforts and I’ll share my favourite next week!

Best wishes

Angela Stevenson

Chief executive