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Dr Som Kumar on improving the workplace for NHS staff

A picture of Dr Som Kumar

The Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme is set to improve hospital sites for patients and service users, and it should also make them better places to work. Dr Som Kumar, Consultant Cardiologist and one of the New Hospitals Programme Clinical Leads, explains how the programme plans to meet the needs of staff.

What are the main problems that staff face that you hope the New Hospitals Programme will solve?

What excites me most is that the New Hospitals Programme will give us an opportunity to improve both the health of our patients and the working environment for NHS staff.

A patient should be central in their own journey throughout healthcare. However, under the current system, if a patient walks into a GP practice in Morecambe Bay and is then referred to a clinician in Preston, the clinician may not have access to the patient’s clinical records and may have to repeat the tests. This causes a great degree of consternation, both on the patient side and the caregiver’s side. In the future, I am looking forward to a more holistic approach for the entire Lancashire and South Cumbria region and a better connection through digital technology.

Why should staff share their views and how will that help shape the New Hospitals Programme?

Anyone who lives or who works here, indeed anyone who breathes the air in Lancashire and South Cumbria, will find that their lives will be touched by the New Hospitals Programme that we are designing.

In fact, I was interested in this because what kept me awake at night was the current constraint in the NHS. And if what gets you out of the bed on a Monday morning is a deep resolve to improve the workplace and be happy at work by providing the best care that you could possibly give, then you would certainly be interested in getting involved.

There are various ways in which you could get involved and there are three good reasons why you should be involved. Although the New Hospitals Programme is looking at all the detail from many different aspects, you can always bring in a new angle or a new thought which allows the programme to reflect on itself – that’s the first reason. The second reason is we need your challenge. Your challenge will help us to critically appraise what we are doing. And the third – and perhaps the most overriding reason – is why wouldn’t you? This is our legacy for the future; this is our opportunity to shape health services.

How can staff become involved and promote the New Hospitals Programme?

If you see one of the various pop-up engagement stands at our hospital sites, then please come over to have a chat and find out more. You can also follow the New Hospitals Programme on social media, so please join in the conversation on Facebook (opens in new window) and Twitter (opens in new window). Your activity on social media is key, because the more people who are interested, the better the outcome will be.

We have been holding a range of engagement events for staff, including Colleague Summits and drop-in sessions. Members of the New Hospitals Programme are also actively involved in different staff forums, networks and team meetings. For example, at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals where I work, we have had an opportunity to talk about the New Hospitals Programme in our Equality and Diversity Forums and we bring it to the medical staff and consultants’ committee, so that we have got the opportunity to hear feedback from a wide variety of colleagues.

For those of us who are actively involved with the New Hospitals Programme, we never miss an opportunity to talk about it during our day-to-day work or even in our social circles. And perhaps you too could be ambassadors for the programme. If you want to get involved as an NHP Ambassador, then you can find out more about what this entails and how to register your interest by reading Janet Miller’s blog all about her role as an NHP Ambassador.

As staff members it’s also really important to encourage more people to get involved in the New Hospitals Programme in your local community and social circles. Now is the time when we are in a position to bring this to life, because this is a system-wide transformation and this is all about making our working lives better and our patients healthier.

Author: Dr Som Kumar, Consultant Cardiologist and one of the New Hospitals Programme Clinical Leads.

Read more about the shortlist of proposals for new hospital facilities in our region.

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