10 August 2017 CEO Blog post

Busman's Holiday

So I am on a busman’s holiday. I left RJAH on Wednesday evening for a few days off. The plan was a couple of days in London and a chance to see the Athletics World Championships with the family. It was also a few days to relax, gather my thoughts and reflect on a busy few months at home and work.

At this point I should be moaning about the traffic on the M6 and managing the arguments in the back of the car about my taste in music on the radio. Instead I am sat next to my daughter’s bed on Ward B11 at Warrington Hospital.

She was rushed in last night with severe right side abdominal pain. Now as a man whose appendix burst several years ago and was operated on twice in this same hospital in a week and nearly died (one of my NHS experience stories), I consider myself something of a non-medical abdominal pain expert.

To put your mind (and mine) at rest, she is fine. It’s not appendicitis and she can hopefully go home later today. What it has done has made me think. AT RJAH, what are we good at and why? What more do we need to do to realise our ambition of being world class?

Five things on a busman’s mind……

  1. #Hellomynameis. Some staff do it and some don’t. It makes a huge difference, especially to a 13-year-old. Do we always do it? Do we all do it? We have Chris Pointon coming to do a masterclass for us in the autumn. If you don’t know the story of his wife Dr Kate Granger then make it the thing you do this week.
  2. The NHS still has issues with process. We can’t get an ultrasound here overnight. The earliest slot it 3pm today. So a whole day in a bed when probably we don’t need to be here. Is our flow at RJAH right? What do our patients wait for? Do we organise ourselves to ensure the flow and in the way our patients experience our care? (I don’t think we do).
  3. Meetings. We have too many. We use them to work on stuff that should be done before or afterwards. I have just listened to three cleaners sort an issue out with a chat. Now it was loud and should have probably been done elsewhere BUT surely better that a 30-minute meeting. Come on RJAH: let’s reduce our meetings and have more chats (corridor, Denbigh’s, League of Friends coffee shop, even on a walk outside). I am going to try.
  4. IT. Care records are still so paper-based. I am sat writing this on an NHS iPad whilst I am watching nurses, doctors and cleaners record on paper. We are so much the same. I am so sure we need to invest whatever we can in improving the IT at RJAH. We need a step change.
  5. Happy Staff = Happy Patients. I want RJAH to be an extraordinary place to work. You have heard me say this before. I will keep saying it. We have the opportunity to be the best hospital in the UK. Warrington is a good hospital, led by a Chief Executive, Mel Pickup, who I admire. She has been consistent, hard-working and at it for several years. But, I think we can be even better…….

So, as much as I love the NHS, I could do with a break from it. Saying that, it’s been nice sitting on a children’s ward writing this blog. Maybe I will pop down to Alice Ward to write my next one?

My sincere thanks (again) to Mel and her team at Warrington.

To the team at RJAH who are about to have some time off. Enjoy it. Relax, refresh and my honest advice? Don’t do the busman’s holiday. 


Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

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