Claire Granato on staff involvement in shaping the New Hospitals ProgrammeDate posted: 8th February 2023
Alongside engaging with the public, the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme is seeking views from staff members across the health and care system to ensure that their needs will be met by new hospital facilities. Claire Granato, Allied Health Professionals Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme and substantively Chief Allied Health Professional at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, discusses the topics of conversation at the recent webinars held to update staff about the programme.
What is your role within the New Hospitals Programme?
I am the Allied Health Professional Lead and part of the clinical triumvirate representing Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (opens in new window). I have various responsibilities with the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme. I currently take a lead on the patient, public and staff engagement for the programme, and on a joint research venture with Lancaster University (opens in new window).
What was the purpose of the recent staff webinars, and what were the main topics that you discussed?
We set up the webinars to give an overall programme update. We also knew that, for some staff members, it might be the first time they had attended a New Hospitals Programme session, so we covered the background so far, going into why we were selected for the national programme to begin with and the current proposals on the table.
We have gone from a longlist of ten proposals down to a shortlist, we discussed the current options and that ultimately, we are waiting for the Government to advise us on the money that will be made available.
During the sessions, we had representation from all the NHS Trusts within Lancashire and South Cumbria and a range of clinical and non-clinical staff including support staff, nurses, AHPs, pharmacists, finance and corporate services staff, it was good to hear a whole range of views.
Do you find that staff members have similar hopes and concerns as patients and members of the public?
Their questions fall in line with the main topics that members of the public have been concerned about, such as access and parking. If it is a new site, how far away could it be? Where could the locations be? We were able to provide assurance that all plans have a car parking solution within them and any new site would be within a 10-mile radius of the existing.
These sessions also always have a bit of a ‘myth-busting’ element. There are still people - and members of staff too – who heard about a potential option for a single “super hospital” (i.e. a single hospital to replace both Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary) but were not aware that it had not made the shortlist. This proposal was discontinued despite clinical and operational benefits because there was real concern around health inequalities and accessibility for local people. There was also some lack of stakeholder support, including from patients and staff.
Some staff members are also under the impression that because so much work has been done on the New Hospitals Programme already, we must be further along the process, so they were keen to know the specific detail for departments or for where offices would be. We were able to provide assurance that we are really not at that stage yet, and when we are we will be coming to the clinical experts to guide some of that design elements.
With seven years still to go until the target date of delivering new hospital facilities, do you envisage staff input still having a big role to play?
Yes, definitely. Currently we've got our triumvirate teams and a few different clinical leads as part of the programme. But as we get into the detail, we will be approaching more staff members from different departments, and they'll be key to informing and advising our next steps.