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 next job!

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 way

* 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 Stroke Association!

* 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 additional staff

* 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 12!

* 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 working together

* Have also been meeting with MPs, hospital Trust Chief Executives and Healthwatch Chief Executives ( patient representative bodies)

* 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.



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