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To 2017 and beyond

Chief executive Steve Dunn reflects on 2017, in his latest blog.

As the year comes to a close, it’s often a time where we stop and reflect on the last 12 months; and what a 12 months it’s been for us here at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT).

There have been so many high points: we’ve welcomed community services to the west Suffolk team, which is the start of an exciting way of working to deliver a fully integrated health and social care system for Suffolk patients; we’ve embarked on our ambition to create a fully integrated cardiac centre, supported by our My WiSH charity’s biggest ever appeal, which will see us provide enhanced care closer to home for our cardiac patients; we’ve launched phase two of e-Care, our electronic patient record, taking us forward on our global digital exemplar journey; we’ve seen new innovations created by staff – like our staff nurse Kate Ramsey’s idea to use green coloured cups for medicines so they aren’t mistakenly thrown away; we’ve launched schemes that are helping our patients get home more quickly, like our #EndPJParalysis campaign to get people up, dressed and moving and reduce deconditioning, and our fantastic ‘support to go home’ service that puts earlier care packages in place for our patients.

We also added to our already extensive collection of awards – this year we’ve received Baby Friendly and Family Carer Friendly Hospital Awards, a Hypo Awareness Week Excellence Award, a Quality in Care (QiC) Diabetes Award, our own Jan Bloomfield and Abigail Johnson brought home a Lifetime Achievement and Apprentice of the Year award respectively at the Bury Free Press Business Awards, and community consultant paediatrician, Dr Lucy Grove, was awarded Best Doctor at the prestigious national 2017 WellChild Awards. If that wasn’t enough, we were also shortlisted for Anaesthesia Team of the Year in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) awards , and the Staff Engagement Award in the Health Service Journal national awards ceremony. An award-winning Trust indeed – all evidence of the great work my colleagues do every day.

But of course, we’ve also had our challenges. Demand has skyrocketed, again. There has been a massive and sustained increase in demand, and it’s one that’s being seen across the entire NHS. It has affected our performance against the A&E standard, and on the ground it’s also had an impact – it certainly feels very busy right now. We’re doing everything we can to recruit staff and source agency colleagues to help relieve some of that pressure.

We’ve also had some challenges around our referral to treatment (RTT) times, though it’s great to see those steadily improving thanks to a huge focus and effort from teams across the Trust. And as ever, money continues to be on our minds as we’re asked to do more with less; what’s positive is that we are ahead of the game, and are already looking at what cost improvements and efficiencies we can make right through to 2019. We remain one of the most efficient trusts in the country – something everyone at WSFT plays a part in and should be proud of.

But what has shone through throughout the challenges, the busy times, and the pressure, is the commitment of our staff. Every day I see colleagues doing the small things that make a big difference. The care they continue to give, and the drive they continue to have, is inspiring, and I cannot thank them enough for their unwavering hard work and efforts.

Many of them of course worked over the Christmas bank holiday, or are working over the New Year, and I’d like to say an extra special thank you to them, and to their families for their support. The NHS certainly is 24/7, but that always feels more noticeable at this time of year.

Whatever your plans, I wish you a peaceful and enjoyable celebration with your loved ones, and a happy start to 2018.



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