Chichester Observer: Gillian Backs More Doctors, Nurses, and Care Professionals at the NHS

Our NHS is valued by us all. It is there when we most need it, from birth to death and all the steps in between. In Chichester, we are very lucky to have St Richard’s, which is part of the Western Sussex Hospital Trust – the only acute trust in the country to be rated outstanding in every category by the Care Quality Commission. Last week, the fantastic team, led by Dame Marianne Griffiths, had the opportunity to show the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, how they’ve achieved such success.

Matt visited the hospital with TV-star and chef, Prue Leith, to open the hospital's new kitchen which will now offer patients around 50 combinations of meal choices. The new kitchen and menu were put in place after patient satisfaction forms came back with complaints about the food.

In 2014 the Trust started a programme called ‘patient first’. Simply put, every decision they make is patient-centred and they are constantly listening to people who use the hospital. All the feedback they get is discussed in departmental meetings where suggestions for improvement are made every day. This constant drive to do better is built on a philosophy of incremental and continuous improvement, led by frontline staff. It is why they now have a brilliant new kitchen, and why they are one of the best performing trusts in the country.

Constant development is a theme in the health service locally. On last week’s visit, I met a woman who had been working for twenty years as a domiciliary and has now just completed a Paediatric Nursing Apprenticeship plus another woman who is currently retraining on an NHS Management Apprenticeship. In National Apprenticeship Week, it is great to see these opportunities in the health service.

The Government have been working hard to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs with more doctors, nurses and care professionals currently being recruited and trained. There are already 50,000 nurses in training, bolstered by the introduction of the new Nursing Degree Apprenticeship and Nursing Associate roles.

Getting the staff we need is essential for the future of the NHS and I am pleased that the Government is opening up new avenues to people who are looking for a career in the NHS. As a former Governor at St Richard’s, I know it’s a fantastic place to work and you never know where it will take you… at the recent General Election, eleven of my newly-elected colleagues have health sector backgrounds!