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Chief Executive Sir James Mackey talks about some of the developments from the past six months

Tuesday, 15 September, 2020
Chief Executive Sir James Mackey talks about some of the developments from the past six months

Since the start of the pandemic there’s never been as much focus or attention on health and care services across the country.

Whether that’s the clap for carers events that took place during the summer to recognise the work of essential workers or the huge appetite for news and information about Covid19.

With the NHS front and centre of rolling news bulletins for the last six months the gaze of the public has been on a range of statistics, case data, mortality rates and a raft of other information about Covid19.

While this has brought much greater attention to the work of the wider health service some of the things that we do for patients every day has perhaps been lost in the noise created by this unprecedent event.

In Northumbria we pride ourselves on giving patients the best possible care and treatment despite the current challenges faced by everyone.

Looking behind the Covid headlines this year offers a rich picture of services in Northumberland and North Tyneside. I hope these Inside Northumbria blogs are also helping to highlight some of the lesser known roles that play such a huge part of the NHS package of care.

Away from the pandemic several of our hospitals were last month named by Newsweek in the World’s Best Hospitals 2020 Awards, rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest global players in healthcare.

At a local level public satisfaction with NHS services in Northumberland and North Tyneside are actually at record levels despite the challenges posed by Covid.

The latest research shows that 94% of respondents said they were satisfied with the services provided by the trust – the highest number since polling began in 2012.

Planned operations and procedures are also something that’s very important and while Covid limited what we were able to do, we still completed 2,000 of these for local people.

We’re also using virtual reality technology to help relax patients and make recovery faster by avoiding the need for general anaesthetic or heavy sedation. You can read more about this here.

The pandemic has also seen our organisation look at new ways of connecting with patients and making appointments more convenient across a huge geographical area. This use of technology has helped ensure continuity of care, provided a more convenient approach for many and helped reduce the impact of travelling to appointments on the environment.

Before the pandemic, 10% to 20% of outpatient appointments at the trust were done digitally, by video or telephone consultation, but by April to July, that increased dramatically to 60% and equated to almost 55,000 appointments.

Chris from Berwick was one of the patients who benefitted from this and you can read his story here.

We’re also focused on the future and so far this year we have started construction work on a state-of-the art sterilisation unit and unveiled plans for a multi-million-pound hospital in Berwick and a potential new health and education hub in Cramlington.

I’d like to end by saying thank you to everyone in the local and business community who has supported us in 2020.