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Leading the way towards longer, better lives

An interview with Dame Jackie Daniel, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

With 1.72m patient contacts every year, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a literal lifeline for those living in Newcastle, North East England and Cumbria. As the only NHS trust of its size to be awarded an Outstanding rating two consecutive times, it is an exemplar of patient care with a commitment to research and innovation that extends far beyond the region’s borders

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Newcastle Hospitals) is one of the largest and most successful teaching hospitals in England, providing academically led acute, specialist and local community services to patients in Newcastle, North East England, Cumbria and beyond.

At its helm is Dame Jackie Daniel, who became chief executive in April 2018. Since her appointment, the former nurse who moved into NHS management and was made a Dame in 2017 for services to healthcare, has led the trust to an outstanding performance, strong financial standing and exceptional clinical care record.

She has also raised the trust’s profile nationally and internationally and ensured its strategy, vision and values are well-placed for continued success. Dame Jackie made it her mission to be a more engaging leader when she took on Newcastle Hospitals’ top job, and introduced the #FlourishAtNewcastleHospitals programme, which supports and enables the 14,725-strong workforce to reach their full potential.

“I think one of the most important things is to create the environment for every single member of staff to flourish,” she said. “But that means different things to different people.

“We use a lot of social media and run events and workshops around themes such as the menopause and sleep – utilising clinicians and experts within the trust.

“What’s amazing is that networks that don’t necessarily follow the trust’s formal hierarchies have developed,” Dame Jackie added.

This commitment to staff wellbeing was duly rewarded in May 2019 when the trust was rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the second time – the only NHS organisation of its size to do so.

Dame Jackie described being “blown away” when the CQC bestowed its highest rating again.

“As a chief executive you try and set the overall framework but it’s the staff who absolutely bring that prize,” she said.

“We are the only trust of our size and scale to be rated outstanding twice in a row, which is massive. The important thing now is to maintain that standard.”

Newcastle Hospitals launched its five-year strategy in September 2019, which looks to build on existing strengths while addressing future challenges.

Outstanding patient care remains at the heart of the trust’s work. It is focused on providing integrated services that improve the long-term health and wellbeing of its patients while also reducing health inequalities through prevention and earlier diagnosis.

But this care goes far beyond the communities of Newcastle, North East England and Cumbria.

Clinicians from the Great North Children’s Hospital, for example, are leading the way in paediatric care and research nationally and internationally, while cutting-edge CAR-T therapy is available as part of a suite of options across the whole of the North of England for both children and adults.

As a Global Digital Exemplar, the trust is also blazing a trail in the digitisation of healthcare around the world.

Research, innovation and discovering new knowledge is fundamental to Newcastle Hospitals, which is at the forefront of cutting-edge medicine and diagnostics. The trust’s clinical trials and genomics, for example, have the potential to offer new approaches to medical specialisms, including rare disease and cancer.

From its base in the heart of Newcastle, the trust will continue to work with a myriad of strategy partners spanning health and social care, academia and industry to encourage a thriving ecosystem of research and innovation.

The newly formed Newcastle Academic Health Partners, for example, brings together Newcastle Hospitals, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trusts and Newcastle University to deliver world-class healthcare through collaborative scientific research, education and patient care.

Meanwhile, Dame Jackie recognises the vast potential of having Newcastle Helix, a major innovation hub for life sciences built on the trust’s doorstep.

“It will definitely help us attract researchers and leading clinical academics,” she said.

In June 2019, Newcastle Hospitals was the first NHS organisation to declare a climate emergency and has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2040 (10 years ahead of the government’s target).

Dame Jackie reflected: “We were inspired by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, which had already declared climate emergencies. As health providers, we felt we could make a major contribution.”

With strong foundations and clear objectives, Newcastle Hospitals is set to fulfill its ambition to become one of the major anchor institutions of the wider NHS and a leading voice in the fight to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

The content and photography in this editorial section were produced by North East Times.

"We are the only trust of our size and scale to be rated outstanding twice in a row, which is massive. The important thing now is to maintain that standard."
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