The National Health Service is an institution that is valued and treasured and for those of us that are privileged enough to work within it there is a real sense of pride when we talk about the work we do and the difference we can make to people’s lives.

With this pride comes a driving desire to be the best that we can be, and to always treat our patients in the same way that we would want a member of our family to be looked after with the highest quality of care.

Most of the time we do get it right, but when we don’t this is when feedback can really help us to learn and understand much better how it feels to be on the receiving end of our care and how we can improve.

Despite now receiving more than 75,000 compliments over the last four years we want to know more and this is why we need your help. By hearing firsthand about patient experience we can learn so much about what we need to improve and also what we do well.

One way we do this is through our friends and family test. This asks our patients if they would recommend the services they have used to their friends and family and I am really proud to say that we consistently receive an average score of more than nine out of 10. This is reinforced by the fact that we receive over 40 compliments for every complaint that we receive – and I am sure there are many times when our staff are praised, say thank you and then go about their work without mentioning to anyone else or recording it.

There are many organisations and companies that can only dream of receiving such feedback and yet I don’t think this is reflected in the public’s opinion of our trust. The majority of people receive the highest quality of care, but I’m told many believe that they must be the ‘lucky one’ or the exception to the rule. But our results show that this is not the case.

We know there is still much more that we can do better, which is why we value feedback so much and this is where I would like to ask for the public’s help. We are inviting all Lincolnshire residents to have their say on the reputation of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust through an online survey. You don’t have to be a patient, you just need to have a view.

Before we can build on our reputation, we want to find out what people think about how trustworthy and credible we are, if we spend money wisely and if people think we provide high quality care.

We want to better understand the public’s perception and how people form opinions about ULHT hospitals – Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, Grantham and District Hospital and our services at County Hospital Louth – with the aim of making improvements.

The survey should only take a few minutes, but will provide us with important information, so please feel free to share your views and I promise that we will continue to listen and make them count.

The online survey is open until Wednesday 19 June 2019 and is available to complete here.

Jan Sobieraj is the chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Recently, the healthcare system across Lincolnshire launched its Healthy Conversation 2019.

This is a discussion about what, and how, we need to change to ensure that our health service is fit for the future.  It is a chance for everyone to learn more about our current thinking on the future of NHS services and is a way for us to get meaningful feedback from members of the public about what future services may look like.

We are very proud of our local NHS, but like many parts of the country, we have problems too. It is often difficult to get a GP appointment quickly. We cannot recruit enough staff and we are overspent. Our hospitals cancel planned operations because beds are already full, and we fail to hit many important national targets.

We are determined to address these problems to create an NHS that is fit for the 21st Century and future generations.

Our community services are already starting to work differently so that they become our first port of call when we need support. Our aim will be to provide your hospital treatment without you having to stay as an inpatient, wherever possible. When you are ready to leave, we will make that happen without unnecessary delay. This will help us to use our hospital beds and specialist staff more responsibly.

As part of this thinking, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has taken time to talk to staff, patients and the public about what our vision could be for each of our hospital sites.

Our current thinking is for Lincoln County Hospital to be ‘a modern general hospital with a focus on urgent care, complex surgery, cardiac and cancer care’.

The A&E will be supported by an additional urgent treatment centre which will treat those patients with urgent care needs who don’t need more specialist hospital care.

The preferred emerging option sees our stroke services consolidated at Lincoln hospital to improve outcomes for patients and shorten the amount of time people need to spend in hospital following a stroke.

We see Lincoln hospital becoming our ‘one-stop’ destination for all diagnostic and surgical breast treatment. The county’s specialised rehabilitation medicine will continue to be delivered at Lincoln County Hospital.

Our women and children’s services, such as obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and neonatal will be consultant-led. We will establish a new midwifery-led unit too, offering better birth choices to mothers in line with national guidelines.

The vision for Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, is for it to be a ‘modern general hospital with a focus on emergency care and more complex surgical services’.

This would see the current A&E boosted by the addition of an urgent treatment centre, which would help with the problems of long waiting times and help those who don’t need specialist hospital care.

Women and children’s services would be enhanced by increasing the unplanned admission length of stay to 23 hours from 12 hours for children; a children’s daycase surgery service and the addition of a midwifery-led maternity unit. Consultant-led obstetrics, neonatal and gynaecology service would also continue at the hospital, along with the consultant-led paediatric assessment and outpatient service.

We’d also like to see general, trauma and orthopaedic surgery continuing, providing emergency and complex planned surgery and daycase care for those with complex health conditions. However, as I previously mentioned, one option for stroke services could be the creation of a centre of excellence at Lincoln, in line with current best practise thinking.
Grantham and District Hospital will continue to provide a range of clinical services and the emerging option is to develop a centre of excellence for elective surgery serving the county and surrounding areas as well as providing urgent care services.

This means Grantham will see the majority of our planned operations, ensuring that people from across the county can have their operation without the risk of cancellation and to the best national practice standards.

The vision is to develop an urgent treatment centre at Grantham hospital to provide 24 hour, 7 day a week access to urgent care services locally. This would replace the current restricted A&E service and reinstate 24/7 urgent care, meaning that the vast majority of local patients who need care quickly would receive it in Grantham.

It would also see medical services maintained at the hospital by joining forces with local primary and community services, managing it as part of the local enhanced neighbourhood team. This would also mean that medical staff would in future be able to provide care in people’s homes and in the community, as well as in the hospital.

County Hospital Louth will continue to operate as a centre for daycase surgery and diagnostics and provide a wide range of community hospital and care services to support local people into the future.

Louth hospital has both acute and community services operating on the site.  It remains an integral part of our plans for the future and will continue to provide vital services, including it’s 24/7 urgent care centre, which would transform into an urgent treatment centre.

It is important to remember that no decisions have yet been made and you can find out more about the other topics being discussed and join in with the Healthy Conversation by visiting the website www.lincolnshire.nhs.uk/healthy-conversation. There are also a number of open events you can come along to in order to find out more here.

I really would encourage everyone to make sure you get involved as this is a great opportunity to help shape our NHS for the future.

Jan Sobieraj is the chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the national health service and with it came lots of amazing and inspirational stories about the difference the NHS has made both in Lincolnshire and nationally. 

We started the financial year being told by the Care Quality Commission that we’d got better! They visited at a tough time when the Beast from the East was here but, despite that, they saw some great improvements.

There was the brilliant news about the new Lincoln Medical School being developed by the University of Nottingham and University of Lincoln, and the £1.8 million capital funding by the Department of Health and Social Care to develop medical education facilities at the trust to support this. 

As a trust we have also committed to a £1 million investment to kick start the introduction of  electronic health records, making them up to date and accessible at all times, leading to safer and more efficient services.

Impressions of the £21.1 million Lincoln Medical School.

Our new text notifications for outpatient appointments launched this year which gives patients access to a portal showing the letter, any attachments and a map of how to get to the hospital. The portal allows them to accept or rebook the appointment. 

We believe these and other investments in technology will result in a better experience for our patients and enable our staff to spend more time on patient care.

The National Centre for Rural Health and Care was launched, this is the brainchild of health and education professionals from Lincolnshire and the East Midlands.

Jan Sobieraj, Chief Executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Reporter

It aims to bring about improvements in healthcare delivery in rural settings, through research, better use of data, workforce developments and improved technology.

There is no doubt that 2018 has also presented us with some challenges:

  • We have worked hard around our financial deficit
  • Our staffing shortages resulted in the introduction of the interim women’s and children’s model at Pilgrim hospital
  • Our performance is not always where we want it to be against the national targets, but we have plans in place to address this.

Despite this I have seen some great things which inspire me, make me proud and give me optimism for a better future. 

We have developed some really innovative, transformative approaches never tried in the Trust before:

  • The new trauma and orthopaedics pilot is going well and saw the Trust perform more orthopaedic elective operations in one week than in any other week before
  • The £1.8 million investment in the “Big Change” project is leading to better urgent care pathways at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston
  • We have seen 6,000 more outpatients compared to last year
  • We have continued with our huge investment in fire safety (around £2m per month)
  • Our innovative partnership with EMAS and SSG Health consultants saw our ambulance handover times almost half
  • The introduction of quality matrons has seen 16 of the Trust’s 40 adult inpatient wards that have been regularly inspected and assessed against a range of measures and achieve green ratings and overall improvements

We have been recognised in national awards, including being shortlisted for the Nursing Times surgical nurse of the year, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) system led support for carers and we won the HSJ innovation in mental health for our partnership work around transforming ADHD care across the East Midlands.

We also won The Sun nurse of the year and had 11 nominees shortlisted for the Lincolnshire Health Awards where we won five awards and received one highly commended. 

We know we have lots to do, but the start of a new year gives us a great opportunity to pause, take stock and think about the progress we have made.

I am sure 2019 will bring its own challenges, but I am hopeful that it will also provide more opportunities for us to work with our health partners, the public, our patients, their families and local residents to provide the best possible hospital services that they want, need and deserve.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues in the NHS for working so hard, often going above and beyond in their daily working lives and wish them and all Lincolnite readers a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Jan Sobieraj is the chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

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