It’s over 20 years since Newcastle Hospitals held its first Nursing Conference – an important part of our history and a legacy I take very seriously as I carry out my role as Executive Chief Nurse.  I’m reliably informed that first event was attended by 60 people, how times have changed!

Two women in a photo frame.This year it became a joint conference, which aligns with our current workforce, and I was honoured to host our first ever Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional (NMAHP) conference on 23 October.

I was even more delighted that over 350 attendees from all areas of the Trust were able to take part with such enthusiasm although I know there were even more people who wanted to come along but weren’t able to.  Hopefully this blog will provide a taster of the day!

We started with a strategic view. I shared our recently launched Trust vision & values, which have been developed in partnership with many members of the team, as well as highlighting my early reflections as a Chief Nurse and six key priorities and aspirations for NMAHP for the future at Newcastle Hospitals.  These are:

  1. Improve quality & reduce patient harms
  2. Develop NMAHP workforce strategy, plan and metrics for improvement
  3. Develop leadership capacity, capability and resilience
  4. Engagement for improvement
  5. Strengthen academic research links and offer
  6. Lead the digital healthcare agenda for NMAHPs

Next year (2020) has been dedicated by the World Health Organisation as International Year of the Nurse and Midwife so let’s make it an exciting one!

A small team have been working on developing our strategy as nurses, midwives and allied health professionals  and that gives us a great opportunity to celebrate what we do and how we work together as part of a wider team.

On 5 March, we are planning an exciting day working with Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer, to share the work so far around our NMAHP strategy and bring it to life. We have a great opportunity to ‘To develop Newcastle Hospitals locally, nationally and internationally as a focus for nursing and AHP leadership, clinical practice and academic research’ and I hope you will join me on this journey. Please note this date in your diary.  I want as many staff as possible involved and working together on that day.

But back to the conference….We were delighted to welcome Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health for Newcastle, who gave a fascinating presentation about the difference between population and public health, the importance of assimilating exercise into our daily activities and the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.

A professor, giving a lecture.I’m hoping to invite Eugene back to a future masterclass so that we can think more about routinely including prevention and wellbeing into our daily practice. Eugene’s message fits well with our own #Flourish framework for developing and supporting ourselves and others.

The audience were blown away by Adam Pownall (a trustee for the GAIN – Guillain-Barre & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies – charity) who shared his own personal story following diagnosis with Guillian Barre syndrome.

Adam is a young man who developed and produced a play about this experience and we got a powerful insight into his world when he performed excerpts from it.  I know many people commented afterwards that they would like to see the play in full and were really struck by the impact this illness has had on Adam, not just in hospital but following his discharge and through to his eventual recovery.

Our fringe events, as always, were hugely popular allowing staff time to showcase their excellent work to peers and colleagues, share learning and make connections for the future.  I know these events, along with your poster presentations, take such a lot of hard work and the standard, content and delivery of all was absolutely exceptional.

In the afternoon, Dame Jackie Daniel presented the NMAHP achievement and clinical leader awards.  Yet again there was a really strong field of contenders and congratulations to all who were nominated and won this year.

Prof Brian Dolan was our keynote speaker following his visit to the RVI and Freeman where he had spent time with the MDT leading work to improve our patient journeys and prevent de-conditioning in hospital.

Brian – a nurse and academic who lectures widely and is known for his work on #last1000days and #endPJparalysis – was amazed at our work to-date and the progress we are making in such a large and complex organisation.

He talked about the importance of time and how we, as caregivers, can influence every day for our patients whether they’re in hospital or in their own homes.  He shared the impact of delays on the patient journey and how patient inactivity significantly contributes to morbidity and longer length of stay.

Brian’s engaging and warm delivery really connected with our NMAHP and I have no doubt that the work we’ve started so far around a range of initiatives which focus on de-conditioning in hospital will start to grow over the next year.  He really gave us all an insight into how important social movements are for change.

Let’s use this keynote conference speech to launch a campaign here at Newcastle Hospitals which focuses on how we can give back time to patients whilst in hospital or community – whatever their age – under our care.

The new #ActNow e-learning resource has just been published which will help NMAHPs and all care teams in the patients journey and I commend this to you.

We finished the afternoon with a Q&A with our executive and non-executive directors which gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions and through the Slido app, vote on the questions they were most interested in.

I would just like to say huge thank you to our conference team.  Peter Towns, Associate Nurse Director, took the lead this year and proved himself an admirable master of ceremonies and I know he was supported by a great team who gave up much of their own time to make this conference such a success.  Thank you.  We couldn’t do it without you.

Finally, if you are a Nurse, Midwife or AHP interested in getting involved in a future conference or our celebrations for year of the nurse and midwife, I’d love to hear from you!  Please get in touch with myself or with Liz Harris, Deputy Chief Nurse.