27 October 2016 CEO Blog post

A hospital in a tent

I've been to visit another hospital. It was just like many other hospitals I have been in. It had brilliant and dedicated staff. It was focussed on its patients. It was managing the order of its cases in theatre. It was trying to keep ED moving. It was training its junior staff. It was well led, it had a focus on its budget. It was managing some clinical governance issues and ensuring strong infection control procedures. It was proud of what it was doing. It was a happy and busy place. 

So, you might say, what's special about that? Well, it was in a tent. A (posh) tent put up (and taken down) by the staff working in it. A tent on a marine base near San Diego in the USA.

I have just spent a long weekend seeing how a British army medical reserves field hospital works in a simulation exercise. 

What did I learn? I learnt many of the issues we face are the same. The focus on staff welfare and morale was brilliant. The compassionate care for the living and the dead excellent. The high quality training of staff. The ability to squeeze every bit of real time and reflective learning out for the individual and the team. This was an exercise in partnership between 202 and 203 Field Hospitals. You couldn't see the join. 

I also learnt a whole new language of jargon. (Blimey and we think we are bad). 

Over lunch one day I was told stories of the fallen.....NHS people, good caring people who served in Afghanistan and in Iraq who did not come back or came back with life-changing injuries. People who care, just like you and me...but in their spare time do this to help others affected by war or unrest in the most challenging places on the planet. 

So, next time I see a solider, or hear about the the army medical reserves or on Remembrance Day, I for one will have a much deeper connection. 

To our own colleagues including Col. Maggie Durrant  and Sgt. Rebecca Warren. Thank you for inviting me and thank you for helping me learn more about what you do. RJAH has a long military history right back to Robert Jones himself. We know it's a special place and it's special because of its people. We are very proud to have you in the RJAH ranks. 

We need to help the wider NHS family understand more about what the army medical reserves do, both as part of the army but also for the NHS. As an example the army leadership training is excellent. There are real opportunities for NHS people to get involved in all ways and at all levels. I for one will be working to do what I can to help other NHS chief executives understand more. 

I'm writing this on the plane home. Tonight I will hug my loved ones a little closer. And what I saw wasn't real. All I saw was an exercise.........

Mark

Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive