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Improvements will create a better patient experience

Emergency nurse practitioners Anne Spours (left) and Sonia Arkle, from the minor injury unit at Alnwick Infirmary
Emergency nurse practitioners Anne Spours (left) and Sonia Arkle, from the minor injury unit at Alnwick Infirmary

Welcome to this month’s column bringing you up to date with developments at Alnwick Infirmary.

The last time I wrote, we were in the depths of winter – a winter that this year lasted longer than usual – so it’s so good to be enjoying some warm spring weather at last.

Members of the community nursing team in the Alnwick area, celebrating International Nurses Day.

Members of the community nursing team in the Alnwick area, celebrating International Nurses Day.

This month I’m going to focus on the improvements we’re making for patients on our ward, mention the upcoming opportunity for local members of our trust to vote for new governors, celebrate excellent waiting times across our trust, and pay tribute to our midwives and nurses.

In February, I mentioned that our day room was going to be revamped with the support of our Bright charity to improve the environment for patients and their relatives, and I’m pleased that work has started on this great project.

The modifications we needed to make to move the access to the store room out of the day room to make it quieter and de-clutter the area have been done.

We are decorating the room in warm colours to create a welcoming space and we’ve ordered a variety of furniture – sofas, chairs, tables and a sideboard – to enable the room to be used to its best potential.

We’re also making a dedicated reading corner, with chairs and a lamp, with funds from the League of Friends.

I’m sure the refurbishment will encourage our patients to use the room more, from spending time with their visitors and fellow patients to socialising and playing games if they’d like to.

I will update you on progress in my next column.

Alongside this work to our day room, we’ve also been making improvements to the ward environment to better support our patients with dementia.

Like hospitals across the NHS, more and more of the patients in our care have dementia symptoms and being in hospital can often add to their confusion.

We know that strong colours can help patients feel less disorientated so we’ve decorated parts of each bay in a different one, creating purple, orange, green and blue areas.

This helps our patients identify with their bay and feel more comfortable.

We’ve also included pictures in our signage for areas of the ward, such as bathrooms and the kitchen, which again helps our patients navigate the area and makes them feel more at ease.

These improvements complement the work we already do on the ward to try to get to know patients better by encouraging families to complete ‘This Is Me’ documentation about their loved ones, and continue to do the things they usually would do with their relatives in order to normalise their stay in hospital.

These changes are making a difference to our patients and its all part of our continuous work to improve the experiences of our patients in hospital.

Over the last month or so we have been seeking local people to put themselves forward to become a governor of our trust.

The role of a public governor is to represent the views of local people and help build links between our trust and the many communities it serves.

Duties include holding non-executive directors to account for the performance of the board, reviewing the annual accounts/report and representing the interests of the public in governance meetings.

In the Berwick constituency, which covers the Berwick and Alnwick areas, we’ve received nominations from three residents – Barry Allison, Julian Cunningham and Mick McCarthy.

There are two vacant positions and members of our trust in this area will be sent ballot papers from May 29.

This is your opportunity to influence who represents your views and I would encourage all members to have their say before the deadline on June 21.

As you may be aware, there’s a national target for 95 per cent of people attending A&E departments to be treated or admitted within four hours.

Our minor injury unit here is included in these figures, alongside those elsewhere in Northumberland, our urgent care centres and our emergency department at The Northumbria Hospital at Cramlington.

We always work really hard to meet this target and even during the extremely busy winter period, we were consistently one of the top trusts.

I’m delighted to report that in April we had the best A&E waiting times in the country, with 98.8 per cent of patients being treated or admitted within the national four-hour standard, ranking us first out of 133 trusts.

It’s been a real team effort, with staff across the trust pulling together and making improvements in their area to improve the flow of patients from A&E through the hospital and into the community, where appropriate, to ensure that their experience is as good as it possibly can be.

While these figures are excellent and a real boost to our teams, we will continue to focus our efforts on ensuring our patients are seen as quickly as possible by the right clinician and that they experience a smooth and timely journey through our care.

Before I go I wanted to celebrate the fantastic midwives and nurses we have working here in Alnwick as this month we’ve marked International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day.

From supporting women through every stage of their pregnancy to caring for a newborn, our midwives provide person-centred maternity care. Whether caring for people in hospital or in their own homes, our nurses are there for families throughout their lives.

It really is the old adage “from cradle to grave”, and as the NHS approaches its 70th birthday in the summer, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate our amazing service. I’m sure you’ll all join me in thanking them all for their hard work and dedication.

As a final thought from me, I wanted to let everyone know that we will be celebrating the Royal Wedding at Alnwick Infirmary on Saturday by giving our patients slices of cake and a flag.

We hope our patients, and people across North Northumberland, enjoy this special occasion.