Yvonne's blog: Dec 2014
Meeting staff, television interview, first board meeting
It's now the middle of November and I have been here 6 weeks and
absolutely loving it. While there is clearly a lot to do, I get a
real sense that everyone is up for change and wants to make the
organisation a better place to work and one to be proud of!
I have had an extremely busy time, trying hard in particular, to
get out and about to meet staff. Not an easy task when there are
over 2,000 of you spread all over the region.
I have had the most fantastic experiences meeting crews and
staff on the A&E side, PTS and the contact centre, in addition
to HQ and Scotswood. In many cases I would have dearly loved to
spend more time with you but either you or I had to get off to the
Here is a little flavour of what I have been up to:
*Interview with Look North scary experience but felt the
pressure of wanting to represent you all in the best possible
* Had a brilliant day with Dave and Paul from
Middlesbrough station. It's just amazing what you guys do, the
difficult circumstances that you have to deal with and yet you
remain professional and patient centred at all times. I met some of
the other crews at James Cook and loved the banter that goes on.
Hope you enjoy your Christmas Party and raise lots of money for the
* Spent a couple of days meeting staff outside A&E units at
North Tees, South Tees, Durham and Darlington, Sunderland, South
Tyneside and QE as well as Newton Aycliffe.
* Attended my first Council of Governors meeting. I presented
our Performance Report and made it clear that my highest priority
is to support our staff by increasing our efforts to recruit
* Attended my first Board meeting as Chief Executive and
re-iterated that our staff are our greatest priority which the
Board was unanimous in supporting.
* Met with our 4 lead commissioners who agreed to sign up to
representing all of the Clinical Commissioning Groups. This means
we can have a more meaningful dialogue than trying to engage all
* 4 November met staff at Scotswood House and staff in the
Workforce and Organisational Development to explain the interim
management arrangements. I am commissioning an independent external
review of our Training Department firstly, to ensure that we are
doing all we can to provide our staff with the highest quality
training and our Department feels equipped to do so and secondly,
to ensure that we are in a strong position to meet future
challenges, in particular, the national moves to a 3 year degree
course for paramedics and what that would mean for us.
* I have met both Northumbria and Cleveland Chief Constables and
Police Commissioners. Whilst both expressed concern re the effect
the pressures on our services were in turn having on them they were
also keen to explore how they could help us and develop ways of
* Have also been meeting with MPs, hospital Trust Chief
Executives and Healthwatch Chief Executives ( patient
* I attended the opening of County Durham and Darlingtons new
Fire HQ and unexpectedly found myself in the receiving line for the
Countess of Wessex. Luckily I had put a posh frock on but not so
sure about my curtesy! Poor woman nearly got head butted!
* Met staff at Barnard Castle for whom I have a special message.
It was a real privilege to meet you and I consider myself a better
person for having done so. My heart goes out to you and I have
nothing but respect and admiration for you. Your experience will
help and drive me to keep centred on my goal to transform this
organisation into one that can clearly demonstrate that it cares
for its staff. Thank you!
* 11 November it was a real pleasure to do a PTS shift with
Ronnie Kirkbride and Kelvin Hawkins from Wideopen. There was great
rapport with the patients, many of whom were regulars and clearly
appreciated seeing staff who knew them and their needs so well. It
was very moving. Again it was really nice to meet some of the other
staff at Wideopen and I will try to take on board your comments and
suggestions -finally on Friday I finished the week with dream team
Harry ? and Heather ? from Morpeth. Whilst it was a steady night
with one or two difficult cases we had such a laugh and I
thoroughly enjoyed it. Again I met lots of staff including Richard
and Dan and promised to visit Wallsend station. Thanks to Harry and
Heather and thanks for the invite to the Christmas party - I will
see what I can do!
I have picked up a huge amount of suggestions as to how we could
improve our services and remove some of your frustrations. So thank
you all for that. I still have much to learn so will beekeeping up
the visits. Please say hello.
In relation to trying to relieve some of the pressures on
you, the Board and the Executive Team is now fully focused on
trying to recruit additional staff - nearly 300. Whilst this will
take some time, I'm hoping that it won't be too long before you
start to notice the impact and your working lives and in turn your
home life begins to improve.