Do we pass the ‘granny’ test?

Most of you will be aware of my passion for improving the patient experience. I have done several blogs and addresses on the need for our patients to be treated with compassion and dignity and the need to enable family and whaanau to be a part of the care process. I am pleased to say that we have formalised the way in which we can measure our patients’ experience.

The CM Health Inpatient Experience Survey began in April this year and provides patients with an on-line survey two weeks after their discharge from hospital. They are asked about their recent hospital stay and the results are collated and analysed each month. This provides us with timely, relevant and more importantly, actionable information to clinicians and managers to improve the patient experience.

The survey focuses on aspects of care and treatment that we believe matter most to patients. We ask patients what they rate as the most important things that they consider make the most difference to the quality of care we provide. Unsurprisingly, these three things are, in order of patient priority, communication, being treated with compassion, dignity and respect and consistent and coordinated hospital care.

 So, how are we doing? Overall, patients are rating our inpatient services communication (mostly) positively. However, I believe it is from the negative reports that we can learn the most. While the positive comments came from 74% of patients surveyed so far, 8% rated our communications with them as poor. Around a third of our patients felt that clinical staff did not always listen to them or felt they had been given enough time to discuss their health needs and treatment. I think this is very telling. We are a very busy hospital and we often experience huge patient loads, but with communication being rated as the most important thing that patients want and need, we can clearly make more efforts to both understand and be understood.

You can help us understand our patients’ point-of-view and use the insights to improve the quality of our services. Please let the survey team know how you are using the information they provide, what actions you are taking as a result of this feedback and if you notice any changes as a result of the actions. contact Also, please remember to note patient email addresses.


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When the unthinkable happens

Thursday 25 September will remain firmly etched in my mind as I was told of the disappearance of a five-day-old baby from our Maternity Ward at Middlemore Hospital. While the baby was safety returned to its parents, thanks to CCTV and the prompt action of staff, security and police it was a harrowing time for the parents and staff involved.

The first thing I want to say, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of us is that our hearts go out to the family concerned.  As a dad with three children of my own and two stepdaughters I could only imagine the pain the parents were going through. As a CEO, there was a strong sense of responsibility. This extra-ordinary event took place within our Hospital – a place where people should feel safe and secure.

With additional safety measures now in place, we will be undergoing a full review into what happened. I just want to acknowledge the graciousness and calm attitude the family have shown, under such incredible circumstances. We are doing all we can to provide full support to the family and the staff involved to minimise any impact from this terrible event.

The power of compassion

For many of us work is a place of routine, where we perform similar tasks and activities on a day-to-day basis. This gives us a degree of comfort or certainty in what we do.

For the people we look after, whether it’s in Hospital, a General Practice or out in the community, our workplace can be a place of extraordinary stress and uncertainty and I’m incredibly mindful that we have a responsibility, not only to keep our patients safe, but also to provide quality care with compassion, patience and understanding.

Like many of you I’ve been on the receiving end of care and have felt vulnerable, anxious and out of my comfort zone. As a result I’m incredibly mindful of how compassion must take centre stage in everything that we do – whether it’s a reassuring touch, a helping hand or just someone there to listen. As always, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Granny Test and our commitment to provide the standard of care we would want our family members to receive.

Some of you may have watched a video called Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care. I’ve watched this video 3 times now and it still has a profound effect on me. It shows what happens when you put yourself into someone else’s shoes – hear what they hear and see what they see. It’s incredibly powerful and is something we should all be mindful of when caring for our patients, their families and ourselves.  After you have watched the video ask yourself the following question – would you treat people differently?

Greater_miracle Video Source: Cleveland Clinic


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Give yourself a pay rise!

The Stoptober ball comes to Middlemore Hospital

The Stoptober ball comes to Middlemore Hospital

Last week the children from the crèche and Kidz First helped me roll the big red Stoptober ball through Middlemore Hospital. Truth be told the kids actually took the ball off me – who was I to argue! The event was in support of Stoptober – a national campaign, which aims to get smokers to give up the cigarettes for an entire month, starting 1st October.

As an ex-smoker I know it’s hard to give up the cigarettes , however word to the wise, if you can get through the first four weeks you are well on the way to giving up for good. I’m not saying you won’t still have the odd craving – I certainly did, however you really have gone through the worst of it during those first few weeks.

What’s more you’ll start to feel better – your smoker’s cough will disappear, you’ll have more energy to spend with the family, food will smell and taste better and most importantly your clothes won’t stink of stale smoke!   From someone who has been through it – quitting is hugely positive for you and your whaanau …. but you know that, so how to begin?

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The best conference I have ever been to!

“The best conference I have ever been to.” Professor Peter Bradley, Public Health Wales

APACOne of the most inspiring speakers of this year’s APAC (Asia Pacific) Forum on ‘Leading Healthcare Transformation’ was Dr Dave ‘Dafydd’ Williams from Canada. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to hear an astronaut, aquanaut and Chief Executive who’s the same person.

It was great hearing about his missions into space – but actually what was more interesting was his thoughts on what made great teams. He reflected on more than one occasion that it was a great attitude and team spirit, which led to success.

And I have to say that it was a great team effort, which delivered the third APAC Forum – this time, bigger than last year – with over 1,500 delegates attending from 14 countries in Melbourne. The work of our ‘red shirts’ was outstanding – always available and responsive to the needs of delegates, demonstrating an amazing attitude.

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A heroic deed

This week I want to introduce Biace Poasa, an amazing young man, who works as an orderly at Middlemore Hospital.

A few days ago Biace and his family witnessed a particularly traumatic accident, when a car hit a pedestrian crossing a busy road. While all of us hope to never encounter a situation like this, Biace, without hesitation leapt in to help, performing CPR which ultimately saved this young lady’s life.

He is indeed a hero, in every sense of the word and I’m proud to have him working at our organisation. Below is his story.

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Pushing an open door

It’s been over two years since the first campaign (20,000 Days) began, initiated in response to increasing demands on resources across the system. It’s been a remarkable journey and while the 20,000 Days campaign was successful in giving back 23,060 healthy and well days to our community, Beyond 20,000 Days has continued to build on this success, with 16 collaborative teams working across the system to anticipate and prevent acute health problems, respond quickly and effectively in the community and provide timely and safe care to people admitted to hospital.

Both campaigns have had a profound effect on the patients and families involved. Patients like Mike, who joined the Healthy Hearts: Fit to Exercise programme, following a heart attack. Mike has now turned his life around. He is fitter, healthier and more confident. Earlier this year Mike completed Round the Bays with other Fit to Exercise participants.

And who can forget George from the first campaign, who with the help of the Very High Intensity User (VHIU) team went from 28 admissions in one year down to three admissions the following year.

The importance of these health and lifestyle gains for patients and their family/whaanau cannot be overstated

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A lot to be thankful for

When I think about the challenges facing us as a health organisation, two well-known quotes spring to mind. The first from Walt Disney: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” and my personal favourite, by the creator of Sherlock Holmes “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

In the blog today, I’m going to reflect on what can be achieved when we strive for the best, push through the barriers and open ourselves up to the opportunities that come our way.

They say an organisation is only as strong as its people, and I was reminded of this at our Diversity Ball, when over 700 people came together to enjoy each other’s company and have fun. It was an amazing night and a great opportunity to celebrate the many countries, cultures and backgrounds that make up Team Counties. It’s this diversity that is our strength and makes us who we are. As I looked around the room, I was reminded of what an amazing organisation we have and how potent a force Team Counties is when people come together.

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