We welcome the dawn of a new year with pride for our achievements, plenty to be thankful for and a renewed focus on what we must build upon.
It has been a big year for the National Health Service in 2018, not least as it reached the important milestone of its 70th anniversary.
Here in Lincolnshire, it gave us opportunity to reflect on the vast pool of knowledge and expertise we have among our teams and the extensive yet modest acts of care, kindness and dedication that make the NHS the national treasure it has become.
We saw amazing feats of endurance and determination as the ‘Beast from the East’ hit the county in February and our operational services battled to do everything in their power to continue delivering round-the-clock care to those who needed it.
This included walking to patients’ homes and clinics, supporting different teams, working with volunteers to get to hard-to-reach places and digging people out of the snow on the way.
Increasing challenges throughout winter encourage and inspire us to work differently across health and care organisations to ensure we can appropriately manage peaks in demand.
This saw Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) open Digby Community Ward at Lincoln County Hospital to provide specialist nurse-led support to helping discharge people home quickly and effectively.
It made a significant contribution in Lincoln, facilitating more than 100 discharges in six weeks.
One of our most significant achievements at LCHS during 2018 was to be rated as ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), becoming only the second community NHS trust in the country to do so.
This was made possible by the outstanding people we have working for us, who continue to work extremely hard to maintain these high standards of care.
A joint special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) inspection by the CQC and Ofsted of our Specialist Children’s Services later in the year also found elements of effective practice.
Other notable achievements in the year have included signing the Armed Forces Covenant, being awarded the Ministry of Defence’s Employee Recognition Scheme Silver Award, our Specialist Children’s Services receiving Makaton Friendly status from the national Makaton Charity, and two finalist spots in the national HSJ Value Awards.
We have been very grateful for the support from members of the public for our independent Charitable Funds this year, particularly in supporting the refurbishment of two palliative care suites on Scotter Ward at John Coupland Hospital, Gainsborough, and the purchase of new equipment for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Service in Burgh le Marsh.
The year has also had its challenges. February saw the closure of Lincoln Walk in Centre, while there has been significant discussion with our service commissioners around the future of inpatient services at County Hospital, Louth.
LCHS also stepped in to deliver interim care through the new Johnson GP Centre based at Johnson Community Hospital in Spalding in September following the retirement of the GP partner from Pennygate Health Centre.
All of these challenges have brought passionate and extensive debate with local communities, which we welcome and value.
Looking forward, LCHS continues to play a significant role in Lincolnshire’s health and care system. Continued partnership working will be pivotal in helping Lincolnshire to achieve its ambitions to drive service improvement, outstanding quality and financial sustainability.
Professional resolution: As we continue to experience unprecedented demands on NHS services, my resolution for 2019 will be to continue to promote self-care both for our workforce and patients, ensuring we keep our services available for those who really need them.
Personal resolution: As I get older the year’s fleet past even quicker, so I will need to start my dieting plans much earlier than 2018…the week before Christmas!