ON Monday, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust marked International Nurses’ Day by celebrating the achievements of its nursing staff.
The Trust employs about 2,700 nurses in hospital services in South Tyneside and community health services, including district nursing, health visiting, school nursing and palliative care, in Gateshead, Sunderland and South Tyneside.
The district nurses alone make 40,000 visits to patients in the three localities each month. In Accident & Emergency at South Tyneside District Hospital, staff see about 1,120 patients a week.
There were Nurses’ Day displays in all three localities to highlight the diverse, innovative work of the Trust’s own nurses and to provide information on careers in nursing, the experience of patients and the important issue of infection control.
There was also an information stand in Alexander’s Restaurant in the hospital.
Trust chief executive Lorraine Lambert, said: “Our nurses do a fantastic job in a wide variety of roles, providing outstanding care each and every day, and, at the same time, they are constantly looking at how they can make services better.
“Consequently, they, and their colleagues, are often at the leading edge in terms of service improvements.”
To build on this, in a new initiative launched this year, the Trust assembled a group of Shining Stars – frontline staff, working on the hospital wards and in the community, who get together to test out new ideas, provide feedback on planned developments, and promote the Trust as an employer of choice.
Mrs Lambert said: “The Shining Stars typify the attitudes and values that we expect to see in all our staff: care, compassion, commitment, courage, competence and effective communication.
“Their views on the approaches we take in response to issues identified both locally and nationally will help us to make a real difference for patients, carers and staff.”
Staff nurses Clare Walsh and Elizabeth Amans are both members of the Shining Stars group.
Clare said: “I take great pride in the high level of care and compassion I invest in my patients.
“My personal philosophy of care is that I’ll always endeavour to help the patient to have the best day they possibly can. Becoming a Shining Star has given me formal recognition of this commitment and I look forward with great enthusiasm to developing this new role in order to make a real difference for patients, carers and staff.”
Elizabeth added: “I feel proud and humbled at being nominated as a Shining Star.
“I am also extremely thrilled, as nursing is something I love doing, and for which I have a passion.
“As frontline staff, we can voice the ideas and opinions of our colleagues who, at ward level, day-to-day, see what happens, what can be improved upon, and where we’re excelling, and we can come up with realistic ideas.
“We can also act as patient advocates and voice their opinions, too.”
Meanwhile, the success of the Trust’s nurses in improving patient care has been demonstrated in the last few months with a string of high-profile awards and award nominations.
Most recently, the patient safety team was on the shortlist in The BMJ Awards 2014 in the Berwick Patient Safety Team category, which acknowledges work to make the NHS safer by getting rid of the culture of blame, engaging patients and carers in health care, and promoting quality improvement.
Mrs Lambert said: “It is an honour to be recognised as among the best in the country in a field as important as patient safety, which is at the very heart of all we do, and it is a tribute to our staff who are dedicated to giving our patients, the safest, most effective care of the highest quality.”
An electronic system, which is enabling South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s district nurses to improve their service was judged the winner in the ‘Embracing Technology’ category of the Lean Healthcare Awards, which recognise excellent service improvements and enhanced efficiencies carried out by healthcare organisations across the country. It was also a runner-up in the national Patient Experience Network (PEN) awards.
The system, known as Hydra, is used by the district nurses to manage patient referrals and plan appointments for home visits.
“This has successfully improved patient access to the service and their experience of care, while improving efficiency by reducing the amount of paperwork for nurses, freeing up valuable time which can now be spent with the patients.
Elaine Doherty, pregnancy options advisor with the Trust, was the joint winner in the Sexual Health Professional of the Year category of the UK Sexual Health Awards 2014.
The judges commended her drive and commitment and said they were particularly impressed by the range and quality of work that she undertakes with young women of all ages. Mrs Doherty was runner-up in the same category in 2008.
Specialist nurse Tracey Brydon, of the acute respiratory assessment service, which is based at South Tyneside District Hospital, was the regional winner of the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) Breath of Fresh Air Award. In nominating her, the Breathe Easy South Tyneside support group described the support she had given them as ‘immeasurable’.
Mrs Lambert said: “For all our award winners, there are hundreds of our other nurses who share the same dedication to ensuring that each and every patient receives care that is as safe as possible, and to making a difference to patients and their families, from the moment a new life begins, to saying goodbye to a loved one, and all the stages in between.”