This week I spent some time with our Macmillan Information and Support Centre team. Having spent time with them before, I have always been impressed by the support they provide to our patients and their loved ones, when they have received a cancer diagnosis and are preparing for, and receiving, their treatment. During this visit I was really encouraged to hear about the plans to redevelop the centre in the near future. Thanks to Mary Harris, Manager of the Macmillan Centre, and the team for the invitation.
Our partnership with Macmillan is an essential component of how we provide care to patients with cancer. My visit to the centre was timely as on Thursday Medical Director, Dr John Knighton and I had the pleasure of attending the second of our Trust wide Cancer Strategy days, hosted by the Networked Services Division. The principal aim was to bring together all those with an interest in cancer services to develop our five year cancer strategy. During the day we heard from a range of partner organisations, including the Wessex Cancer Alliance and Public Health Portsmouth, as well as our own staff and importantly, one of our patients. It was an engaging and thought provoking session and I look forward to seeing the discussion transformed into a vision for the future of cancer services over the coming weeks.
Yesterday was Armed Forces Day and on Friday afternoon we devoted our regular Cake, Companionship and Camaraderie event for current and ex-servicemen to marking this important day. We are extremely proud of our military history and the strong partnership with armed forces colleagues. Throughout this week in the lead up to Armed Forces Day our social media channels have been celebrating our dedicated military staff within the Trust, as well as providing more information about our support for Veterans.
Over the past months we have seen a significant improvement in our staff turnover rate, which has reduced from 13.5% in September 2018 to 12.1% in May this year; the lowest figure for almost two years. Essentially this means that we are keeping more staff who come to work for us, which provides greater stability within our teams and translates to us spending less money on expensive agencies. Similarly our ability to fill shifts via our own Staff Bank has increased by 15% compared to this time last year. Both improvements will support our efforts to provide greater continuity of care to our patients. Whilst there is more to do, both in terms of recruitment to roles where there are national shortages, and with our ability to keep members of the PHT team for as long as we can, this is encouraging progress. Thank you to all who have contributed.
This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of when our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit moved into QA. The team hosted a tea party today for current and former staff and this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate their many successes. Over the past decade, NICU has admitted over 4,800 babies, have reduced their neonatal mortality rate to the lowest for level 3 NICUs in the UK and have been recognised as one of a handful of units for having ‘outstanding’ performance for temperature control at admission for babies born before 32 weeks. They have much to be proud of and I want to thank everyone involved in the team for the fantastic care they continue to provide to our youngest patients and their families each and every day.
Finally, I would like to express my thanks to our Emergency Department and on-call teams working overnight last night who provided support to one of our neighbouring Trusts, despite being busy ourselves. This collaboration and partnership working is exactly what the NHS is about and I am grateful for your efforts.