Northumbria Healthcare focused on the future despite continued Covid pressures – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Despite ongoing pressures, the trust, which runs hospitals and community services in Northumberland and North Tyneside, continues to perform strongly relative to the rest of the NHS nationally, but knows it can do more to continue to ensure all patients receive the high-quality care they deserve.

At its public board meeting on Thursday, March 24, Birju Bartoli, Northumbria Healthcare’s executive director for performance and improvement, outlined the key themes for the trust’s forward planning, which includes careful monitoring of capacity and ensuring patients can move through the system (flow), increased community focus, including innovations in social care, and further use of technology and data, which is focused on and for patients and staff.

Addressing the national context and various new plans as the health and care system moves into the recovery phase from the Covid-19 pandemic, she explained that the trust will not see national targets as the end goal, but will strive to go further, faster as part of Northumbria’s ongoing commitment to giving patients the best experience possible.

However, while there is a renewed focus on future ambitions, Covid-19 continues to have a major impact, albeit in a different way to in earlier waves of the pandemic.

In his introductory remarks, Sir James Mackey, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Covid-19 is still with us and while it is now a lower-impact disease because of the vaccinated population, it is still having a large impact on absence and disruption, with cancelled procedures and appointments due to both staff and patient illness. This is likely to continue for two to three weeks before we hopefully settle back into a rhythm again.”

Chairman, Professor Alan Richardson, added: “Staff are very tired, but remain very committed and we reiterate our sincere thanks for all their efforts.”

The board meeting took place the day after the National Day of Reflection which marked the second anniversary of the start of the first lockdown began and Sir James encouraged everyone to take some time to think about the past two years.

He said: “We’re all worried about the ongoing impacts on all our communities, but I’m particularly concerned about young people’s mental health and their access to services and also much older people, and the impact Covid has had on them in terms of deconditioning and isolation, so we want to make sure we continue to work on that going forward.”

Board members also discussed the latest staff and patient experience data, tackling the gender pay gap, and the work that has taken place to meet the national requirements of the Ockenden review into maternity services.

Three board members who are moving on were thanked for their work over the years. Ann Stringer, executive director of HR & OD, is retiring, while Claire Riley, executive director of communications and corporate affairs, and Annie Laverty, chief experience officer, are both taking up positions on the Integrated Care Board for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System.

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