This week we’ve made further progress in embedding our enhanced electronic patient record. I am in awe at the persistence of colleagues across our organisation. The eSASH team, led by Ben Emly (director of IT), is leaving no stone unturned to make sure the system is as good as it can be for everyone using it. They’re working incredibly hard and I’m very grateful. Behind the scenes our People and Culture directorate have changed thousands of records to make the logging in process smoother – we know this caused issues in the first few days due to some settings in the national database, but thanks to our People and Culture colleagues many of these issues are resolved. I’m also very impressed with the way in which our colleagues are getting used to the system. It will take time – this has changed things that some of us have done for many years and I know that’s not at all easy. It’s of course particularly difficult while our services are so busy. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your efforts.

While there are many benefits to eSASH, it also brings some uncertainty for colleagues in medical records. I visited the team today who remain very busy at the moment. Of course with the move to digital notes there has been lots of uncertainty for the team. They’ve shown us fantastic loyalty in recent months and we must repay that by providing them with opportunities and support so they can thrive as we embrace our digital world. It was good to get their thoughts today on exactly what that support might look like and I look forward to going back to them to discuss the details soon.

On Wednesday we were joined by Dr Gary Kaplan, the former chief executive of Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle and internationally renowned expert on continuous improvement. Our partnership with Virginia Mason was the catalyst for our SASH+ methodology, which has of course been central to our eSASH roll-out. It was really good to hear from Gary about how we can learn from their experience to better support colleagues across our organisation during such a challenging period. In the afternoon we were joined by colleagues from partner organisations for an open Q&A too – this included colleagues from Cerner who were interested to find out more about the methodology having been impressed by the way we have used it during eSASH. I’m really grateful to Gary for being so open and sharing his experience with us. I was struck by how clear his message was – when times are tough, it’s even more important to lean in to the methodology that has brought us success, and enable the people who know their area best to make the improvements they want to see.

Our SASH+ system is vital for how we work and so I am delighted to tell you that our Lean for Leaders Programme has been successfully accredited by the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management as having evidenced meeting the Leadership and Management Standards for Medical Professionals. This means that lean for leaders is now accredited for CPD points for clinicians for future cohorts. Make sure you keep your eye out for the next cohort and sign up!

After our Board meeting this week our chair and deputy chair Richard Shaw and Pauline Lambert visited the emergency department. The team has been under immense pressure and I wanted to share with you Pauline’s comments about what she saw. I couldn’t agree more with Pauline’s reflections about the team in the face of extraordinary demand, I’d urge you to read them here.

I am absolutely thrilled that the chemotherapy suite at East Surrey Hospital has had a wonderful revamp, thanks to ideas from our brilliant team and funding from SASH Charity. It’s got reclining chairs and beautiful wall murals in calming colours. It looks much better and the team say the feedback from patients is really positive. Read more about the revamp and see some photos here.

A big well done to our East Surrey Macmillan Cancer Support Centre who held their annual Macmillan Coffee Morning today. It’s always a brilliant opportunity to support an important cause and show our support for such a valued service.

I would like to pay tribute to Sarah Billiald who is leaving her post as chief executive of First Community Health and Care (FCHC) today after six successful years in the role. Sarah has achieved lots in this time, culminating in the recent news that FCHC had been rated Good by the CQC. We really value our joint working with First Community and I am personally grateful to Sarah for her support in recent years. Sarah Tomkins will become their new chief executive later in the year and you can read more about this appointment here. In the meantime we look forward to working with Renee Padfield, and the rest of the leadership team at FCHC as they prepare to welcome Sarah.

Finally, I am urging all staff to get your flu jab as soon as possible. The flu vaccine helps you keep patients, colleagues, loved ones and yourself safe. This year our vaccination programme will initially begin with roving clinics to staff in clinical areas. Our flu advisors are coming directly to departments across East Surrey Hospital, Crawley Hospital and Horsham Hospital to deliver the vaccine. The timings have been arranged with the departments and weekly timetables will be published on SASHnet.

From Monday 10 October we’ll be offering the latest COVID booster to staff on site at East Surrey Hospital too. You may have seen the news that rates are rising again nationally, so it’s going to be really important to protect yourself by getting the jab. You can read more about this and how to get your booster here.

Best wishes

Angela Stevenson

Chief executive