Passionate about Compassion

As ever, it’s been a big week at Counties.

Firstly, we launched our 20,000 Days campaign yesterday to an audience of about 150 people from across the health sector. As you may have picked up from previous blog posts, 20,000 Days is our campaign to implement eight key changes in how the health system works to ensure we keep people well and at home, thereby ‘saving’ 20,000 days in hospital. Rather than sitting and wringing our hands in the face of the increasing demand we know is approaching, this campaign demonstrates that we are being proactive and really focusing on the key issues to help address it. As I looked around the room yesterday at the faces from across primary and secondary care, I was pleased to note that we are beginning to integrate how the health system works for the benefit of patients. The story is not simply about becoming more efficient in our own silos as much as it is about working together across the sector to provide much more effective care for all those we treat.

Another event I attended this week was a Patient and Family Centred Care Workshop for our new initiative involving staff and patients. Often when we say we need to be practising patient centred care, staff justifiably ask ‘what do you think I’m doing now?’. It almost goes without saying that we all came into healthcare to care for patients, either directly or indirectly. Patient care is the first motivation of a health professional and we’re lucky to have many incredibly compassionate people in our organisation.

But I think the system has rather squashed that value out of us and made it hard to practise patient centred care easily in the face of increasing demand and the drive for more productivity. It’s not just a local issue – when I was back in the UK recently, there was a series of media articles about how compassion had been lost from healthcare. Throughout my career, I’ve observed healthcare becoming increasingly complicated. We expect more of ourselves, as do patients. In this complex and pressurized environment, the patient’s perspective sometimes gets lost. I’m sure you’ll know of patients who’ve felt frustrated by the system, who haven’t got the care they needed or who haven’t felt they and their family were involved in the decisions made about them. What the Patient and Family Centred Care initiative is about is looking at these valid and important concerns, thinking about how we can reconnect with our values and what changes are necessary to bring compassion back into everything we do.

With that in mind, we recently received a glowing compliment from a visiting senior nursing executive, which our Director of Nursing, Denise Kivell, presented at the hugely successful Senior Nurses Day held earlier this week. The overseas visitor wrote:

I had not realised until I had spoken to staff at Middlemore how the organisation’s values impact so positively on the delivery of compassionate and dignified care. It was lovely to hear nursing staff talk about their nursing practices/bedside manner and the innovation within Middlemore which they just integrate into how they work. Its sounds so simple but so powerful!

You have something really special in Nursing at Middlemore and I would go so far to say I am not sure they know what an amazing model they have to deliver what really matters – compassionate dignified professional care.

This leads me to mentioning World Hand Hygiene Day which we’re celebrating on Monday next week. I think hand hygiene is a microcosm of patient centred care and our demonstration of compassion. No one wants to spread infection to patients but, in a busy day, we sometimes forget about hand hygiene before touching a patient or initiating a procedure, and after touching a patient, their environment or completing a procedure. We have to change and there’s no miracle solution – it’s a matter of determination, presence of mind and having the discipline to do it. At the moment, we have about 60% compliance but I would like to see that figure much, much higher as we endeavour to demonstrate compassion in all that we do.

Finally, thanks to the eagle-eyed Ian Hutchby in the Centre for Quality Improvement who kindly emailed me this rather ironic screen shot of my last blog post.

It seems whoever decides on the adverts for the WordPress blog site is not as focussed on healthy food choices as I am at present!

On that note, I’m down 3kg while MiddleNOmore participants have collectively lost 62.7kg so far. Please keep recording your weight through Physiopac – I’m sure there are more kilos lost among us that we don’t yet know about! Earlier this week I was in Wellington and bumped into Don Mackie, our former CMO who is now at the Ministry of Health. I have to pass on my congratulations to Don as he is now half the man he used to be, having lost as much weight as I have and looking absolutely fantastic for it. We swapped stories about reading food labels and hunting for low-fat sandwiches. I’ve become quite obsessive about these things but I’m down a belt notch so it must be helping. I hope those of you who are joining me on MiddleNOmore are enjoying similar success.



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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