My message this week is slightly longer than usual as it has been a busy week, but don’t let that put you off…. Today we are delighted to announce that we are one of 24 NHS bodies to be awarded Veteran Aware status, having been accredited by the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance. We are immensely proud of our historical links with the armed forces in Portsmouth and it is a huge honour for us to be among the first organisations in the country to be recognised with Veteran Aware status.
This means that our staff caring for those who have served in the armed forces will have receive training and education on their specific needs, both physical and mental health, and will be able signpost them to local support services. Over the coming weeks, patients and visitors will start to see information provided within the hospital raising awareness of our ‘Veteran Aware’ status and encouraging them to notify staff if they have served in the armed forces. To coincide with achieving this status we are recruiting a number of Armed Forces and Veteran Aware sign-posters to help us raise awareness of the status and what it means. If you are interested in supporting us with this please contact Lois Howell, Director of Governance and Risk (Lois.Howell@porthosp.nhs.uk), which has been leading these important initiatives on behalf of the Board.
It is fitting that our accreditation has arrived as we approach the Armistice centenary on Sunday. I was honoured to take part in two remembrance services at QA this week to pay tribute to our colleagues in the armed forces, many of whom have given their lives in service of our country. Thank you to all those involved in making our acts of remembrance so poignant, and in particular I would like to thank the Wing Commander Redman, Commanding Officer of Defence Medical Group South, and Reverend Dawn Banting our Chaplain, who led both services.
John Knighton our Medical Director and Penny Emerit, Director of Strategy and Performance joined me on a visit to East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) earlier this week, to hear more about their work. ELFT has earned a reputation as an outstanding organisation with a track record in embracing and embedding quality improvement, which has delivered impressive results. We were particularly struck by their approach to staff engagement and how they have embraced patient involvement, particularly in their quality improvement initiatives. I am excited about the opportunities for us to learn from their experience and to add to some of the great things we already do here in Portsmouth.
I also had the opportunity to meet with a group of our local MPs from Portsmouth and South East Hampshire this week. I was joined by leaders from across the local system to provide our MPs with an update on our preparations for winter. In particular we focused on the work that has taken place across all partners to provide additional capacity outside of the hospital which although it is still early days, the impact remains evident. Our MPs are very keen to help us where they can for which we are very grateful.
On the subject of winter, some of you may have seen that our new modular discharge lounge has now arrived on site and is being installed just outside the East entrance ready for operation from early December. It is an integral part of our plans for winter and will further enhance our efforts to ensure that more of our patients are discharged in a timely way. We expect the unit to be operational in December.
In recent weeks we have had a concentrated focus on discharges and in particular the need to discharge as many patients as possible before 10am (‘early birds’) and before 1pm. When this happens the difference to how the hospital operates is palpable, with a less congested Emergency Department, better flow across the hospital and a reduced wait for those patients requiring a bed. In the last three weeks we have seen the number of discharges by 1pm increase from 16% to 23% which is good progress and has helped us create capacity to meet the peaks of demand we experience in the afternoons. My ask of all clinical teams is to continue the great work on identifying suitable patients for discharge, especially early birds, and to work with colleagues across the hospital to ensure that patients manage to go home as soon as we say they are ready to go. This makes a real difference to our patients and their families and helps relieve the pressures within our emergency department.
Yesterday afternoon I was joined by members of our Board to host our annual Pride of Portsmouth awards. It is always an event which provokes huge pride in, and admiration of, our staff who deliver extraordinary things every day. It is one small way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who received nominations from other staff members and patients. Congratulations to all who attended.
Finally, yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with staff from Bank Partners, our new bank provider to welcome them to the Trust as the new service went live on Monday. We have 13 members of the team who have joined us on site at QA who are eager to meet staff, discuss the options available and hopefully help them join the bank. They are based on E level by lift area 2 so please do call in to meet them, ask any queries you may have or if you have already registered, to collect your new uniform. The transition appears to have gone well and I am sure many of you will see the benefits of the new arrangements very soon.
Thank you for all that you do every day, in the interests of our patients.