I went for a walk last weekend and was pleased to see some spring bulbs coming out. With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, there’s a definite sense that spring is finally on its way.
But that doesn’t take away from what has been a long, tough and very busy winter, especially at Middlemore Hospital where the warmer weather hasn’t yet translated into a reduction in demand. I just want to note how incredibly well our staff have managed the significant surge in demand this year. You have coped brilliantly and the fact that we have continued to deliver high quality care to our patients, even under such trying circumstances, is testament to how hard you all work. I’d like to particularly acknowledge the work put in by our Emergency Department staff and physicians who have borne the brunt of the surge in demand. I realise how very hard you’ve all been working to deliver care to a seemingly endless stream of patients within your six hour target, and I know this has been an exhausting time for you all. Hopefully with the near advent of spring, this demand will begin to ease off very soon.
I’ve had a few discussions with a number of key people throughout the organisation about this winter period. It’s obvious that there’s very little improvement to be gained now by just becoming a little bit more efficient each year to meet our additional workloads. Instead, we have to start thinking quite differently about how we work. This is what our 20,000 Days campaign, to return 20,000 days back to our community, and our work on developing Localities are all about. They’re about building capacity in the community so that people can stay at home and be treated in their locality rather than coming to hospital. The critical thing is that these strategies are developing and will continue to do so over time.
As well as our longer-term solutions though, I’m really focussed on what we can do in the immediate future. Like many predicaments in healthcare, we all know what the problems are but the solutions to these seem in much shorter supply! Fortunately, one of the great things that characterizes Team Counties is our ability to come together to develop solutions to the problems we face. The very reason why we built Ko Awatea was to have a place where we can gather to come up with solutions and implement them. Our challenge now is to recognize the need to work differently so that we don’t just struggle well against the problems that we face but we actually find ways of overcoming them.
On a different note, I celebrated a personal milestone earlier this week when I officially became a New Zealand citizen at a ceremony in Auckland’s Town Hall. After almost six years in New Zealand, it was great for me to be part of this event which saw 518 people from 65 different countries become New Zealanders. There were a whole range of people with diverse stories and histories – from those like me who have come here because of a great career opportunity to people who have come here as refugees from places like Myanmar and the African subcontinent. I really saw the diversity that is modern Auckland and modern New Zealand.
Of course it’s great to now count myself as a kiwi but there is one aspect of my newfound nationality which I will always struggle with – when Wales play the All Blacks. It’s going to be a real tug of war for me which will certainly divide my loyalties, but on the flip side, for the first time in my life I’ll be in a position where I can’t lose.