NHS staff continue to show their dedication

These last few weeks we have witnessed three horrific incidents in England. It is beyond comprehension what has happened and my thoughts are with those that were injured and the loved ones of those who lost family and friends in Manchester and London.

Amidst all of the sadness and chaos, it has been humbling to see and hear amazing stories of emergency services, including NHS staff, responding bravely and diligently, with little thought of themselves. Such as Kirsty Boden, a nurse at Guy’s Hospital, who died after stepping in to help others who had been attacked at London Bridge. Such as Dr Malik Ramadhan. He was cycling home after his shift at Royal London Hospital and rushed back after seeing police vehicles, instinctively knowing he would be needed. After the attacks, hospitals ended up turning away doctors, nurses and other staff who were volunteering to come in and help.

These events serve as a further reminder of the great work of NHS staff and it is important we all take the time to reflect and celebrate this. These incidents also highlight our responsibilities as a first responder in a major incident and emphasise the importance of having strong plans in place. The terror attacks remind us that we must continue to remain vigilant and be prepared. If you haven’t already, please take the time to look at the plans in place for your ward or department and discuss with your manager.

I love the NHS because it is all about people – the people who work in it and the people we serve – and that is what inspires and motivates me, so it is no surprise to see staff respond in this way. Yet, for me this also shows the quiet and steely determination NHS staff have – to look out for others and try to make things better.  And I see and hear this everyday within our organisation. I recently visited ward 3 and spoke to staff who were going to the funeral of a young boy who had been in their care for the past three years and supported him and his family over recent months. It is amazing the power and impact their care had and their bond with the family was so strong that they were insistent staff attended the funeral.

I am proud to work in an organisation that has so many dedicated and inspirational staff. For that, I would like to say thank you and continue doing what you are doing because you are making a significant difference to peoples’ lives.

What else I’ve been up to – some highlights from the past few weeks

  • Opened the ‘Better patient care through innovation’ event held at Wycombe Hospital. The event, a collaboration between the trust and Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), showcased the benefits of innovation and collaboration between universities, industry and the NHS.
  • I attended the ‘Personal, fair and diverse’ staff conference, looking at how we are improving and supporting staff, patients and visitors.
  • Interviewed for the director of OD and workforce transformation and I wish Bridget O’Kelly all the best in her new role.
  • Went to Buckingham with Tina Kenny to meet with a lead GP for the Buckingham locality, to discuss how we can support local GPs and develop services in the north of the country.
  • Led May’s team brief, providing an overview of the year ahead to staff.
  • Held public board, which included the presentation of awards to the recent winners of the CARE awards. This is always my favourite part of the meeting as I get to personally thank and congratulate staff who go to extraordinary lengths to deliver the Trust’s values.
  • Visited staff in the SHAW Clinic at Wycombe hospital (picture below) and heard about the great work they’ve been doing to improve staff engagement.


  • Met with Tracey Underhill who has recently been appointed at the new freedom to speak up guardian. Her main role is to support staff to in raising your concerns safely.
  • Continued to meet with anaesthetics and critical care, ENT, palliative care and acute and general medicine SDUs (picture below) as part of our work to support all services to develop local plans for the future.


  • Attended the quality committee.
  • Attended the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) STP executive board.
  • Chaired a session on maternity and developing local maternity systems at the NHS England South Central Medical conference.
  • Welcomed colleagues from the NHS Improvement clinical productivity team who came to talk to clinical and operational leads and the executive team about improving productivity.
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National recognition for Buckinghamshire – leading the way in integrating care

I am delighted to inform you that Buckinghamshire has been designated as one of eight Accountable Care Systems in the country by NHS England. BHT is a key partner in the system and this national recognition will put you on the map as leading the way in developing new models of care.

We have heard for some time from our patients, communities and staff that we need to do more to join up health and care services, making it easier for people to access the right care and support. We have begun that work by investing significantly in out-of-hospital care, working with GPs, social care and the voluntary sector to develop our community hubs pilots. We have teams of doctors, nurses, therapists, social care and paramedics working together to support older patients to remain independent and avoid a long stay in hospital. We are leading a collaborative with other musculoskeletal providers in the county to improve care and stop long delays in treatment. These are just some examples.

But we know there is further to go. For example as we work with primary care and mental health in A&E, or support GPs to provide more local diabetes care. And this isn’t just about making it easier for the people who use our services; fundamentally we also want to make it easier for staff – tackling IT, governance and all those other important parts of the job that are too hard or cumbersome to complete because of different systems and ways of working between organisations.

Becoming one of the first Accountable Care Systems in the country shows the commitment of all health and care organisations in Buckinghamshire to get this right. It provides greater freedom, investment, and added pace to implement our plans. For BHT, this is an exciting development as we strive towards our ambition of becoming one of the safest healthcare systems in the country.

Please read the update on our website to find out more.


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Great teams and great people

Last week Carolyn Morrice and I were honoured to represent the Trust at an awards ceremony in London where BHT was named as one of the top 40 trusts in the UK  by health intelligence specialists CHKS.

Awards CKHS_buckinghamshire_web

The award is a great reflection on the continuing improvements we are making in our progress towards becoming one of the safest healthcare systems in the country, and is another example of external recognition for your fantastic achievements in patient care and experience.

The guest speaker was explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and just a few days later his speech about evaluating the terrain ahead and embracing the unexpected came to mind as the NHS was caught up in the global cyber attack. Although relieved that we were not directly affected, I know that a lot of people spent significant time working over the weekend managing the situation and ensuring contingencies were in place. I want to say a huge thank you to you all.

These recent events have reinforced my view that we have great teams and great people working in the Trust – dedicated, compassionate and caring – and your commitment to our patients, service users and communities is humbling.

What else have I been up to:

  • The value of providing great care for the youngest in our community was reinforced to me when I shadowed Ellie Howard, a Health Visitor in Buckingham. The changing role of health visitors, providing a range of support and being the bridge between midwifery, school nursing and GPs was evident and it is important that we continue to support these teams to collaborate with each other
    Neil with health visitor Ellie_web
  • Whilst in Buckingham I visited the community hospital and staff told me that team morale was improving – something reflected across the Trust in the encouraging results from the recent staff survey – and they felt supported by the senior nursing staff on the wards Neil on inpatient ward at buckingham_web
  • I met with GPs to discuss how we can work more closely together and also participated in a workshop with colleagues from across Buckinghamshire to discuss how we can develop as an accountable care system
  • I attended the NHS Improvement’s Chief Executive Advisory Committee, presented the annual governance statement at the Trust’s Audit Committee, attended Quality Committee, and with the rest of the executive team we discussed our operational performance with NHSI at our regular oversight meeting
  • I met with cardiology, integrated therapies, paediatrics, oncology, respiratory medicine and haematology SDUs to discuss the development of their service strategies
  • I spent Feedback Friday with the cardiac and stroke teams at Wycombe Hospital where I saw the newly refurbished Hyper Acute Stroke Unit which was launched just last week and work was underway for the new catheter laboratory due to be ready in August
  • “We can and we will” was the message of the week when I met Belinda from the validation team for my “randomized coffee trial” meet-up. It was good to have the opportunity to chat and find out more about the team
  • I visited several clinical areas at Stoke Mandeville where, for example, colleagues on Ward 10 described SAFER work and its impact on length of stay
  • I visited the urology suite at Wycombe where the team have made good progress with the recruitment to new roles and its nursing teams
  • I, along with Neil Macdonald and non-executive director Graeme Johnston, represented the Trust at the Scannapeal 30th anniversary celebration event. Scannappeal has been a major supporter of the Trust since it was set up in 1987 raising over £12m to benefit and improve patient care.
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Ambitious plans ahead

As we enter a new financial year and year two of our ambitious transformation strategy to become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country, I want to start by saying a huge thank you to you all.

I was recently speaking to leaders at our first BHT way leadership conference (you can watch the videos here) and meeting staff at engagement sessions across our community sites, and I heard first-hand about the developments in local areas and about some of the great work teams are doing. Despite the challenges we are facing including rising costs, a growing population, increase in demand and intense scrutiny, you all did some fantastic work in 2016/17 and worked extremely hard to deliver improvements in quality and patient experience.

Looking to this year, our vision remains the same. We still want to be one of the safest healthcare systems in the county and we plan to do this by sticking to our three strategic priorities – quality, people and money. We have no new plans or strategies, but we know we will need to do things differently if we are to continue the rate of improvement and build on the great work we have done.

For me, different will mean five things:

  1. Developing the organisation

We are going to look at the way we develop business cases and the way we drive IT so it’s more intuitive and helpful to you. We are also looking at ways to enable quicker decisions, reducing the meetings process and removing duplication in the organisation.

  1. Leadership

When I became chief executive we set up a leadership development programme and 80-100 leaders have already benefitted. Despite our financial challenges we are continuing to invest in this important area with more staff going through the programme as it will help to grow the capability of our organisation, and support more local accountability and control.

  1. Improvement and innovation

The organisations that really deliver fast rates of improvement have a single methodology of how they deliver change. We have seen some really good practice in that over the last couple of years, but we have more to do to ensure that that consistent methodology is applied every time. We are also going to focus and invest in innovation.

  1. Shaping the environment

Demand is going up and as community needs are changing we are going to work with our partners to shape and lead the environment through new contractual models, new models of care and shifting our resources from acute services into the community so that we change the way healthcare is delivered in the future.

  1. Patient voice

We have a really strong patient experience strategy and organisations that really see change are ones where the patient is at the centre of everything they do. We are investing in systems so that we can get real time feedback from patients and will work closer with partners so there’s a stronger role for the patient voice.

The infographic below provides you with a summary of these key areas.

There’s one more thing that will help us continue the rate of improvement and that’s us having the confidence to recognise and celebrate our teams and the organisation internally and externally. We often wait until we have finished the journey before we celebrate what we have done, but if we want to get outstanding and become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country we need to start sharing our successes and have more confidence in the fantastic work we do.

You should be proud of what you have delivered so far – real and substantive improvements in care for our patients and the communities that we serve. This year will be one of ambitious but achievable change. We’re recognising and responding to local and national healthcare challenges and succeeding because we have a clear strategy, the plans and people to deliver it.


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A seasonal message from Neil

Dear colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work this year. You are transforming BHT and making a difference to patient care every day.

Over the past year, we’ve continued to show real improvements against our three strategic priorities of quality, people and money, whilst seeing an increasing demand on our services – 10% in our acute services, and a 22% rise in our community services.

Our highlights are too many to list here, but include those I mentioned in my recent video message :

I am also grateful for the ongoing support and contribution of our volunteers and fundraisers, as well as our patients and the general public who have given up their time to help us improve patient care.

Your achievements are all the more remarkable when set against the backdrop of what is one of the most challenging times for the NHS. There are further challenges ahead, but I believe that we have an ambition and a clear strategy in place to meet them.

Working together the BHT Way – empowering our patients, engaging our communities and partners and enabling our staff – we will continue on our journey to become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country. Exciting plans to look forward to include the expansion of our stroke services at Wycombe, developing community hubs, continuing our work with primary and social care to support patients in the community and going much further in our quality improvement plans.

Once again, I would like to thank you for all you have done this year. For those of you working over the festive period, a huge thank you, and for those taking time off, I hope you have a well-deserved break.

Season’s Greetings and here’s to an exciting and successful 2017.


Watch a seasonal message from Neil by clicking this link below to his latest vlog.


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Spotlight on the national spinal injuries centre (NSIC)

If you have attended any of my staff sessions, or watched my vlog, you will have heard me talk about the importance of sharing our achievements. Most services are modest about their achievements, but I believe that success breeds success. And in the last few weeks we have had much to shout about.

I hope you got the opportunity to listen to the three hour live Radio Five Live broadcast from the gym at our national spinal injuries centre (NSIC) on 29 November – either on the day or on catch-up.

Host Adrian Chiles has a special interest in the impact of spinal injuries after forging a close friendship with one of our ex-patients, David Smith. He had personally requested to come back with David and spotlight his journey of recovery and at the same time draw attention to the work the unit does in supporting patients through the challenging, but often life-affirming, rehabilitation journeys following a spinal injury.




I was immensely proud watching our staff really rise to the occasion of appearing live on radio – and speaking eloquently and with passion about their work. That so many patients wanted to come on the show as a way of thanking and ‘giving back’ something to the unit and were so giving in sharing their stories of will and determination – was a testament to the high regard in which the staff are held.

It was clear to me when listening to the show that the team, whilst recognising the challenges of their work, clearly love their jobs. It makes me more determined than ever to continue on our journey to make BHT a great place to work.

Only the next day, in the very same room I joined friends, colleagues and family members  to remember and pay tribute to our close colleague and Trust head of clinical psychology and head of clinical psychology at the national spinal injuries centre (NSIC), Professor Paul Kennedy who sadly died suddenly in September this year. We heard and read accolades from around the world to Paul’s many accomplishments and lasting legacy, but also about the humility and warmth which marked him out as a special human being.


L-R: Richard Tolkien, Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research Trustee, myself, Paul’s wife Oonagh, Dr Jane Duff Consultant Clinical Psychologist and NSIC Clinical Psychology Lead, and Dr Nigel Kin, consultant clinical neuropsychologist – speakers at the commemorative tea

We were privileged to have worked in the shadow of Paul, whose influence in forging the psychology department at NSIC and developing that discipline across other specialties and in continuing to push the boundaries in this important field was felt by everyone he met.

Perhaps Paul’s most lasting legacy is the internationally-acclaimed goal planning and needs assessment programme, designed from the outset to place patients at the centre of their rehab planning – from hospital back into the community.

It was fitting, then, that on 23 November, I attended with the NSIC team the national HSJ Awards where BHT had been shortlisted in the ‘most effective and adoption and diffusion of best practice’ category. The very fact of being shortlisted was a fantastic achievement. It is credit to Paul that the vision of patient-centred care he pioneered is at the heart of the Trust’s quality strategy today.

It has been an emotional time for the team at the NSIC, but one which has solidified its position as a world-leading centre of excellence. It also demonstrated the unit’s commitment to both our CARE values and our ambitions to continue to grow and lead the way in areas of excellence which we can all be proud of.

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First vlog

Watch Neil’s first vlog. In it Neil shares his thoughts on the achievements that have been made over the last 12 months, looks at our ambitions for the future, our strategy based on three clear priorities: quality; people and money and explains how we’re going to deliver on our plans.

Click here to view the vlog.


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