Dr Kathy McLean
Rachel October 22, 2021

Kathy’s Blog – autumnal colours, thanks and preparing for April

I always feel that the appearance of autumnal colours is a visible reminder of the year moving towards the festive season.  Christmas (for those of all faiths or none) is a time for family – and for us all in the NHS and care system I like to think of us as a huge family.  So, I want to focus my blog on saying thank you to all of you.  The depth of gratitude that I know exists in our communities for the dedicated and committed work of all of our teams cannot be overstated, but at the same time, no thanks, no clapping, no warm words can compensate for the exhaustion and, in many cases, trauma that I know many of you that have worked without a real break since the pandemic began feel.

I want to add my heartfelt thanks to everyone as we move into winter, as the pressures will be likely to increase and therefore we will all need to find that inner strength and resilience to continue to deliver for those who need care and treatment.

The pressures that we are experiencing are to be found across our system – in community services, general practice, hospitals, emergency departments / urgent care, social care, 111, the voluntary sector, ambulance and transport services and elsewhere – but in particular I want to acknowledge the incredible work of Primary Care.  Our GPs and the wider Primary Care team are the true backbone of our health and care service.  The criticism General Practice is receiving at the moment from a range of sources is extremely disappointing – I know from my own experience and from hearing from hard working GPs that their dedication and commitment is undiminished in the face of rapidly rising demand and constrained resources

We have many things to continue working on together but I think there are three broad areas we need to focus on over the next few months until April 2022. These are the same three things that I have prioritised since I joined the system earlier this year: delivery of our operational challenges (including elective recovery, managing pressures and completing the vaccination programme roll-out); ongoing development of our ‘signature’ transformation schemes as well as the development of our Places and Population Health Management; and to ensure that we are ready to operate as a statutory ICS on 1st April 2022.

It’s on this latter point that I want to update you on in particular.  Throughout October we are conducting the recruitment process for the Chief Executive for the Integrated Care Board (the new NHS body which will take on the powers of the CCG).  Supporting that Chief Executive when they are appointed, we will need a talented Board for the ICB.  We’ve had some really useful discussions within the current ICS Board regarding this, covering topics like the balance of Non-Executive vs Executive members, the importance of  representation from both of our top-tier local authorities (City and County) as well as ensuring that we have the right level of strategic leadership for integration across the system.  We will soon be able to share more widely the proposed future Board membership roles to ensure that we are making the best initial decisions. April 2022 is just the end of the beginning and the start of the journey.

There have also been lots of discussions about how we will work more closely with our citizens to ensure that they are fully involved and informing us as we develop the work of our Integrated Care System (ICS) and about how we can build on the collaboration and integration with voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in our area.  All of this will help to feed into the development of our Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) which will act as the ‘guiding mind’ for our system from next April.  But once again, April is the start of the journey, not the end, and listening to partners across the system to influence our work is going to be a signature of our system.

Finally, I would like to stress again how keen I am to be getting out and about to meet with you and discuss your programmes of integrated care transformation from across the system. I’ve particularly enjoyed spending time over the last couple of months with leaders of our Place Based Partnerships.  I am really clear that the change we want to see take place in our health and care system will be driven by our Places and Neighbourhoods (PCNs) – as vibrant collaboratives that can take the strategic direction set by the ICP and the ICB and implement it really creatively and directly with our citizens and partners.  I’ve also really valued meeting in recent weeks with leaders from our Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector and also with Healthwatch.  Working with groups like this, as partners, to support and challenge the development of our approaches will be a critical part of our success in the coming period.

As always, please do share this update with others if they have not received it and please do get in touch directly on kathymclean@nhs.net if you want to discuss something with me or have a question or an idea or want to share with me the work of your team.

My final thought is how we support our colleagues at Nottingham University Hospitals at the moment.  We are a collaborative system so we should all collectively own issues in any one part. We know that that our residents and staff at NUH have not been receiving the quality of service or leadership that they should expect from their NHS.  But importantly, I see the solution for this as being one that is jointly owned by all system partners, on behalf of our citizens and colleagues.  We are only as strong as every link in the chain and I know that you will all join me in looking to support the senior team at NUH to put in place the right solutions and plans to move things to a better place.

I will likely share a further blog this side of Christmas so I’ll save my formal seasonal best wishes until then but for now, continue to stay safe and look after your families and friends and keep focussed on delivering the health and care services for our residents for now and the future.

Best wishes,

Kathy