This has been another really busy week in our hospitals as you’ll be only too aware and one where we have been particularly challenged by workforce issues with many wards and departments struggling to fill shifts. Next week is also half-term which is always challenging from a staffing point of view, so I would ask all areas to focus particularly on how we can work together to mitigate any shortfalls as best we can.
As a leadership team we are very focused on supporting you by working to secure maximum funding, workforce development opportunities and more collaborative ways of system working. But this isn’t easy and we know there is a strategic shortfall of health and care workers across the whole public sector. Nevertheless like you we are determined to find solutions and improve the experience for all.
It will come as no surprise to hear that at this time of year – close to year end – we are also seeking ways to ensure we balance the books and need to find a way of creating around £800,000 of flexibility across divisions and departments. This sounds like a huge sum and indeed it is but I’m sure that if we all apply ourselves to avoiding waste and the thoughtful use of resources then we can get there – “every little helps”. As always, any thoughts or ideas you might have would be very welcome – you know best how your areas work and where any potential flexibilities may lie.
And with the NHS in the headlines again this week, with the lowest ever A&E four hour waiting times being reported some may say – and indeed are saying – that this really is a crisis, but that wasn’t necessarily the view of colleagues at our recent Team Brief at the end of January. When asked the question, colleagues in the room entered into a really interesting debate, pointing out that this isn’t an NHS crisis, but rather a chronic problem across the whole public sector (and even globally). And this isn’t just limited to winter, but an issue throughout the whole year.
What came through loud and clear though was how proud colleagues feel about the way Team ASPH has risen to the challenge, and that we should shout more about our successes. Colleagues really liked the A&E blogging piece that went out on Get Surrey recently and commented that we should do more to promote our support services – estates and facilities for example – who do a huge amount behind the scenes but are rarely thanked publicly. People also felt there was far too much sensationalist reporting by the media – that’s true of course but unfortunately quite hard to influence.
Thanking colleagues was also a hot topic of conversation; people would like to see more Board visibility – and we’re increasing our informal walkabouts – with more face to face thank you’s, not just from senior leaders but from all levels within the organisation, and on a regular basis (so not just when we’re under pressure).
When we are under pressure though it’s easy to forget how important the small things are, and sometimes we are not as kind or as thoughtful to colleagues as we ought to be. We can’t immediately fix everything but we can extend to one another courtesy and kindness, I know from personal experience that a small unexpected act of kindness from a colleague goes an awfully long way on a difficult day and I would recommend “random acts of kindness” all round as one way to respond to our current pressures.
All in all, although we continue to face difficult times, we still have a lot to be proud of and many opportunities to take into the future. As ever if you have any further ideas about these or other topics you may have, no matter how ‘outside the box’ – and the more creative the better – please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
In the meantime wishing you a great, albeit chilly, weekend.
With very best wishes,