Talk Health and Care

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Staff like you are the heart and soul of the NHS – an organisation which is rightly one of this country’s proudest achievements. Over a million people rely on its services every day.

Yet the numbers are rising and our growing ageing population presents an unprecedented challenge to its hardworking and dedicated staff.

This week we have launched the Long Term Plan for our NHS. A comprehensive set of proposals, which will ensure it does not just meet this challenge, but secures the NHS for future generations to come.

Any plan for the future of the NHS must be backed up by more money. That’s why earlier this year the Prime Minister announced the largest funding settlement in the history of public services, increasing the budget by £20.5bn a year by 2023/24. 

The bold and ambitious plan is the product of thousands of conversations with our clinicians, patients and the public right across the country to focus on the priorities that matter to us all.

The Long Term Plan will grow and better support you, our hardworking NHS staff, and invest in new technologies to bring the NHS into the digital age – making it fit for the future. 

Matt Hancock speaks to nurse on ward

 

There will be a new focus on prevention, personal responsibility and promoting good health, and more rapid diagnostics and new treatments will improve your care.

In essence the plan will ensure everyone from the beginning to the end of their life will get the best possible support.

Every baby will get the best start in life as we revolutionise maternity safety and new parents will be supported with better recognition of symptoms and access to mental health services.

It is a tragedy that our children growing up now are more likely to be affected by poor mental health. That’s why our plan will see more support for children in schools, faster waiting times for specialist therapies and improvements in how children are looked after in hospital. 

We must take better personal responsibility to prevent ill health throughout our lives. There will be better and more targeted screening and a clear shift towards promoting good health, not just curing illness. We will improve detection, introduce more targeted screening, and build Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres so you can get a diagnosis quickly. We will fund new treatments and technologies such as genomic testing to personalise treatment.

And we will support people to age well – bringing teams from across primary and secondary care together to make sure older people get the support they need to remain independent in their home for longer, avoiding unnecessary stays in hospital.

You, our hardworking NHS staff, will be able to grow as a workforce, as we support opportunities for thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals, particularly in mental health, primary care and community services.

We will create a better working environment for you, our NHS staff, with better training, support and career progression and action taken on bullying and violence to ensure our health service has the staff it needs to care for you and your family.

Our Long Term Plan will ensure the NHS continues to be there, from cradle to grave, free at the point of use, based on clinical need and not ability to pay.

I will always champion this, and the hardworking staff who continue to be dedicated to making this happen.  

A health service and workforce that can look to the future with confidence and hope.

 *** To leave your comments and ideas join the challenge here ***

I am Stephen Hammond and I was appointed Minister of State for Health, at the Department of Health and Social Care, last month. As the Minister with responsibility for the NHS workforce, I am pleased to be working with a Secretary of State who has placed such a high priority on supporting the people who work in the health service to provide the best possible care.

My first visits were to St Bartholomew’s Hospital and North Middlesex Hospital. There I heard from staff about the issues they face every day – they echoed much of what you and colleagues from up and down the country have posted to the #TalkHealthandCare platform. That there are issues with the availability of training and development, that there isn’t always enough time to care, that too often people experience bullying at work. None of these things are acceptable.

As the NHS prepares to publish its long term plan, now is an ideal opportunity to describe what will be different for health and care staff working in the NHS in ten years’ time. I am clear that the issues facing staff need to be front and centre in the plan and that the change it will describe must be delivered in partnership – with national organisations working with unions, employers, patients and staff to deliver services that are clinically led, high quality and sustainable.

 

NHS ward

Over the coming weeks you will see me contributing to the discussion here and as I embark on visits to hospitals across the country. I am committed to continuing to listen to your views so I can best understand what support you need. And I am committed to working with you to help solve the issues you face every day.

There have been multiple major reports recently recognising that doctors want the way they work to be different. The foundation programme career destination report 2017 showed that only 42.6% of F2s progressed directly to specialty training. The latest GMC report on training pathways reveals that the 3 most common reasons for not entering training are:

  1. dissatisfaction with the training environment
  2. health and wellbeing
  3. uncertainty about specialty choice or career direction

Feeling some of the above, I thought about Australia, I thought about a masters, I thought about travelling, and I briefly considered training. But really, I wanted to dedicate time developing clinically in a trust I already enjoyed working in, while also having the opportunity to have paid time working on quality improvement, research and teaching – and to continue to live in a city and flat I love, to boot.

Fortunately, such a job exists… Reflecting on my short- and long-term personal and career aims I applied for one of the 12-month clinical fellow posts at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust (BSUH) established by emergency department consultant Dr Rob Galloway (@DrRobGalloway) and the team.

14 months and a further reapplication later, I feel I couldn’t have made a better choice. I chose working for an organisation and department that values me and treats my work and life with equal high importance. I chose fully integrating within a team, making friends, and work colleagues who enrich my life personally and professionally.

I also chose being part of an engaged group of doctors full of quality improvement ideas who, with our split clinical and non-clinical posts, have the time and resource to effectively implement them. Through this post I have been able to support significant and lasting changes within the trust and region, be involved in award-winning improvements having national recognition, such as our single clerking and acute floor model, and learned skills that have opened doors to opportunities I didn’t know existed.

Rotas don’t have to stay the same as they have always been. Our shifts are designed ergonomically, gradually adjusting your body clock – from early, to late, to night. Your annual and study leave is guaranteed. If you want to get married in June next year and have 2 weeks off after, you can. Flexibility and cover is built into the rota, so sickness and absence has less of an impact. A large pool of doctors as fellows makes swaps for study and annual leave much easier and just a simple Whatsapp away. Moreover, we have no locum spend and no rota gaps. For the registrars and consultants, we use innovative software called Health Rota, which makes self-rostering and preserving work–life balance much easier.

Valuing doctors with jobs and rotas that respect and cultivate their personal and professional needs keeps us refreshed and motivated to keep working long term for the NHS, not only benefitting the staff but also the patients within it.

We have just been featured by the British Medical Association as an example of best practice as part of their medical rota gaps campaign and feature. Our video lets you hear more about our experience, and more detailed information is on NHS Improvement.

We need a change in culture and how our employers, regulators and educational bodies design how doctors work. Our fellow-posts and rotas at BSUH are an example of a growing resource of how we can do things differently and for the better for all doctors. We hope this is just the beginning of good things to come. Fourteen months ago I might have left the NHS, but now – provided practice like this is spread more widely – I am looking forward to the future.

@PhilipRankin

NHS doctors gathered around in hospital

I registered as a pharmacist and started on the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme (GMTS) in September 2017. I joined the policy & strategy stream in London and have worked in different areas within the NHS before and during the scheme.

Throughout my time in the NHS, I have experienced many teams and seen different levels of empowerment. To me, empowerment is about supporting people to do their best. While on the scheme as a graduate trainee, it can be very difficult to make an impact within the NHS as you are seen as a junior member of the team.

During most of my time in the NHS, I felt empowered by my colleagues and senior management to make an impact. For example, when working on a project alongside senior clinicians to improve patient safety on the wards, I noticed a gap in a different policy area which could also result in a compromise for patient safety, but was not part of the scope of the project.

I raised this with the management team and my team, who expressed much interest as no one had brought it to their attention before. The management team said they were happy if I were to run with this idea to see how it worked out and report my findings back to them. I enjoyed this, as I felt trusted and valued by my colleagues. I was the only person going to be working on this, but I didn’t feel isolated as I knew I could knock on a colleague’s door for help due to their open door policy.

In turn I have been able to bond with and develop meaningful respect for them, and feel comfortable discussing problems with them, knowing they will listen. My findings have shown that since I introduced my idea there’s been a change in the way the service works that has had a positive impact on patient safety.

As part of the GMTS, I have developed personal mental techniques to empower myself, which I developed during the study days. Led by a facilitator, we confidentially discussed real-life problems and used a structured approach to help each another solve them. The technique has enabled me to enhance my leadership skills and become more strategic in the way I work, which makes me feel more confident about the decisions I am making.

To empower a team, the key is leadership, which through living the values, creates the culture. In my experience, there was a clear drive to be supportive of staff and help them do the best they can, allowing leaders to deal with barriers to delivering good patient care. The training from the GMTS provides the groundwork for good leadership that empowers all staff to move towards a vision and provide high quality care.

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