The Board was opened with a thank you to all
the school choirs and other groups that performed at The Whittington Hospital over the
Christmas period. Arsenal Football Club and players were also thanked for their visit to
the children’s ward and neonatal unit before Christmas. This is the 20th year they
have visited the hospital which always causes much excitement and is very special for
patients and colleagues.
I recently had lunch on one of our wards with some of our patients. The food was very
good and I received some very positive feedback on the quality and range of food
available from patients.
The Board were informed that Barbara Windsor MBE was due to officially open the new
Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre at the hospital on January 8th. The
centre provides information and emotional support to people with or affected by
As we continue to work on our new five year strategy, we have further events in January
for our patients, members, community and anyone with an interest in Whittington Health to
give feedback on their health priorities, concerns and suggestions. Details are on our website.
We are running our first ever voluntary sector event for health and social care groups
and organisations in Islington and Haringey on 28 January.
The Board thanked Caroline Thomsett, director of communications, who leaves the Trust at
the end of January, for her work and wished her the very best for the future.
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Phidieas Jiassemides, the
father of one our patients Christina, told the Board her story. Christina has severe
learning disabilities (LD) and complex physical health needs and is under the care of our
learning disability team. Christina has difficulties communicating what she needs or
wants which can be difficult when she is in a healthcare environment. She has been
supported by several Whittington Health services, with several admissions over the past
couple of years.
Hellen Odiembo, acute liaison LD Nurse has provided support for each of these admissions.
Phidieas told the Board that overall the care and treatment Christina has received had
been very good. However they have faced challenges, in particular when staff change over
they often need to explain Christina's needs all over again because the information
is not shared.
Hellen told the Board about the important support the Trust offers to patients with
learning disabilities. Initially patients receive an assessment by a learning disability
nurse to understand their complex health needs. The learning disability team are an
integrated team made up of nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, who work
closely with mental health teams and colleagues within the local authority. The LD team
support people like Christina by raising awareness amongst colleagues and introduced
‘purple folders’ which LD patients that has all their health needs and
treatment details. All of this supports health professionals treat LD patients and ensure
they get the best treatment and outcomes.
Simon told the Board that
78 per cent of colleagues had now had their flu vaccine, with a target of 80 per cent.
This is very positive.
Simon told the Board that we have dramatically improved our performance on responding to
complaints, responding to 77 per cent within timescales for September and 79 per cent for
October, compared with 21 per cent last year. The team is working hard to hit the
target of 80 per cent within 25 days.
We have successfully tendered for new community gynaecology service, winning a three-year
contract to provide a community gynaecology service across Islington and Haringey. The
overall aim is provide a high quality and innovative consultant-led service to deliver
safe clinical outcomes, improved patient experience with reduced intervention and follow
Winter pressures in emergency
We are continuing, like most trusts, to
experience a high level of pressure on our emergency department (ED).
This has meant that we did not achieve the national four hour standard of treating 95 per
cent of patients in ED within four hours in November (92.4 per cent). This was due to a
high number of patients and demand for acute inpatient and community-based beds. A number
of actions have been put in place including additional resources, increased capacity in
district nursing and extra medical and nursing staff in the ED and ambulatory care
Chief executive Simon Pleydell told the Board that our resilience plans had been
supporting the department and we were continuing to receive positive patient
The Board thanked the ED team for their hard work over the past month. It had been a
difficult few weeks with unprecedented demand.
The Board heard about
the recent improvements to the musculoskeletal (MSK) service.
The service aims to see all patients within six weeks which had been achieved for 90 per
cent of patients. Every week the service receives between 650 and 950 referrals. The
variation has proved a challenge and the service has been analysing different models to
cope with the fluctuation in demand.
A new Trust access policy is ensuring fair treatment for all patients. This has led
to reduced waiting times and fewer patients who did not attend their appointment.
At the end of last year a new website (pictured left) was launched providing patients
with information on MSK, physiotherapy and podiatry services. The website particularly
promotes self-help and self-management as well as giving referral information for
GPs and other professionals. The team are developing a central call and referral
management service to handle all MSK referrals to improve the service further.
District nursing update
Our district nursing team
has seen a 30 per cent increase in activity over the past three years which has increased
pressure on the service. The Board heard about the improvements the service had made
which were resulting in a better service for patients. These include:
A successful recruitment campaign has led to our vacancy rate reducing from
30 per cent to five per cent. This has given a more stable workforce.
A new head of nursing role for the community with the
focus on quality assurance and improvement across the service.
Development of an efficient and effective team structure.
These changes have improved efficiency, productivity and communication with local
GPs and other stakeholders.
The roll out of iPads has also had a positive impact on the service, enabling the virtual
handover of patients which had reduced travel time. The team’s use of clinical apps
has also saved duplication and time.
The Board heard how,
like many other NHS trusts across England, we are facing a challenging financial position
this year. We had a deficit of £6.7m at the end of November and are forecasting a
deficit of up to £7.4m at the end of March. The financial position was a
combination of income underperformance and expenditure pressures.
This is a major concern and we are working across the organisation to reduce the deficit
as far as possible this financial year while at the same time ensuring our commitment to
safe high quality care.
We are working on a robust plan to bring us back into balance within the next 18 months
without impacting on patient care. The Trust continues to have further productive
discussions with our commissioners and is exploring all options for additional funding to
improve the position.