14th September 2015

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Health Chat

29th October King's Fund 5.30pm

Samantha Jones NHSE Director of New Models of Care and Vanguards.

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Geordie Legends 
News and Comment from Roy Lilley
It takes courage to die. It's inevitable. Sometimes it might be welcome. Sometimes, something we drift towards.
If you are a young man, with your whole life ahead of you, knowing you will never fulfil your potential... I have no idea how you would face tomorrow knowing you have days if you are lucky.
There was such a young man; just like your son or brother. A workmate, maybe? A prisoner of a cancer. A rare cancer, from which there was no escape.   Cancer a thief of time.  How do the families cope when they are gone... 
If you were this young man, what would you wish for? One last.... one last... what?  Maybe the impossible; a few beers with your mates and watch the game?
This is a true story of a dying lad whose wish came true. Somehow the match was piped to the TV in his room. Knowing he could no longer drink a glass of lager, Steller lollies appeared, his mates invited. The Newcastle players will never know how they were willed on, cheered on and chanted for, from a room in a hospital.
This extraordinary act of kindness and compassion involved Sky TV, the IT department, the catering folk, the admin team, the ward, transport, car-parks, the family and a huge effort in coordination and bureaucracy busting.
Were the influences of the hospital's senior team marshalled and organised? No. Did the communications director make it happen? No. Was the Nurse Director pulling the strings? No. Did the commissioners step in and fund it? No. They all might have done. But.... they didn't.
This extraordinary act of thoughtfulness was organised, pulled together and made to happen by a Band 3 care assistant called Sarah.
A unique one off? No. She also arranged for a man, bed ridden and too sick to be transferred home to be push outdoors; in the shade of a tree under a blue sky and the warmth of sun on his face he died in his wife's arms.
Sarah's acts of kindness are mirrored by another care assistant. Michael, who arranges for elderly patients on his ward to eat together, sing together, enjoy home-made cakes together and be part of a community, forming friendships that reach beyond the hospital.
Are these acts of 'beyond the call of duty' remarkable? Yes, they are but they are remarkable for more than their deeds. They are remarkable because it is possible for staff, let's face it, a long way from the decision making hierarchy, to decide to do what needs to be done and get on and do it.
They are not strangled by risk assessments, business plans, squabbles or professional jealousies. No one says; 'Who have you permission to do that?'
They saw what would make the routine of hospital life bearable and did it. They turned fluorescent lights into the warm glow of a sunny day, shiny walls and polished floors into terraces, common rooms into tea rooms, talking into singing, depression and despair into laugher and joy.
Of course it is the measure of the individuals but it is also a yardstick for all organisations to measure themselves against. I speaks volumes about the way the Trust is controlled and the faith it has in the people who work there.
This Trust is not run, it is organised. It's not a machine, it's a Swiss watch.  It is disciplined when it has to be and orderly when it is needed. This Trust reaches into the community; sees GPs as companions in care, social services as partners and the local authority as its friend.
This Trust is making the palaver and rigmarole of commissioning redundant.
This Trust has a climate of optimism; they say 'can do' and 'well done'. They recognise that understanding the patient journey is not something that can be done from the Board Room. It has to be seen and experienced at the front line of care.
This Trust is poised. Assured that its values are put into practice. For the front line to be as empowered as the Board is remarkable.
More than that... it fabulous. It is Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust.
The home of Geordie Legends.

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