Five years already!

A few weeks have passed since my last blog post and the summer months seem to be flying by.  As usual I’ve had quite a packed diary and I’ve picked out some of the more memorable moments from the last couple of weeks to share with you.

I recently chaired a senior leaders meeting and we had a very thought provoking discussion about climate change.  I believe that we have a responsibility and an opportunity to limit future harm by acting now.  We have agreed to start a Trust wide conversation about climate change, to gather your thoughts, concerns and ideas about how we can change our current ways of working to be more environmentally friendly. 

I often say how I’m struck by the passion, dedication and professionalism of our staff which gives me hope that, together, we can find the best solutions to the challenges we collectively face, including one of the most pressing around climate change.

I’ve attended a number of meetings last week to prepare for the transfer of North Cumbria services later this year.  It’s fair to say that there are a number of outstanding issues, but we are working closely with our partners in Cumbria to resolve these.

I can’t believe I’ve now been CE at NTW for five years and it’s certainly flown by!  I was recently asked what I love about my job and it’s this – I love just about everything – most of the time!  NTW is a great organisation to be part of with 6,000 outstanding staff, the best executive team I’ve worked with in my career, a highly talented, unified Board, a supportive and challenging Council of Governors, good relationships with partners, but above all, a feeling that we are making a difference to the lives of people who need our help.  Our communications team recently asked me if I’d complete a series of Q&A’s about my life, and embarrassingly (and maybe stupidly?!) I agreed – you can see these here if you’d like to take a look.

At a Medical Staff Committee meeting recently I heard about the great work going on to recruit and retain senior medical staff and we went on to discuss some of the challenges facing the NHS at the moment.  I also travelled to Doncaster for a meeting with Simon Stevens – it was a bit strange (being in the town again, not the meeting) as I worked there as a school teacher over 30 years ago so it proved to be a bit of a trip down memory lane!

I’ve often said how much I enjoy visiting our services and whilst on Roker ward it was wonderful to chat with some of the gentlemen, as well as admiring the flat caps two of them were wearing!  To see the care and support provided on the ward was awe inspiring – the whole team can be rightly proud of what they do.  What was also very noticeable was the excellent facilities and environment, designed with staff, service users and carers, our in-house estates team and our architects.  All in all it was a brilliant visit.

At our recent executive team time out we spent some time thinking through what it might mean if we aspired to be a truly learning organisation in its broadest sense.  We discussed how we could engage with you all and explore what it might look like and how we could build on the strong position we are already in. We agreed to consider this in more depth and then engage more widely over the coming months about how to take things forward.

I attended the North Cumbria System Leadership Board where I had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of colleagues from the NHS, local authorities and third sector organisations.  It was a really good meeting and I could see things that we could learn from, including their shared vision and commitment to partnership working.

Gary O’Hare, Executive Director of Nursing and Chief Operating Officer, and I visited the Control Room at Northumbria Police with Claire Andre.  There was a very clear focus on safeguarding and vulnerability, so much so that the similarities between the values and attitudes of the control room staff and NHS and social care were striking. 

And finally, I was pleased to be involved with the arrangements for recruiting two new Non-Executive Directors to the Board of Directors. Our Council of Governors will now need to consider the recommendations of the Panel of Governors (chaired by Ken Jarrold) and I’ll look forward to providing you with a further update in my next blog.

As ever, feel free to drop me a line at if there’s anything specific you’d like to hear about.