Janet Miller is a Public Governor at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Here, she explains why she became an Ambassador for the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme and what that role involves.
I am just entering my sixth year as Public Governor at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This means that I represent the views of patients, members and local communities to assist our local NHS leaders when it comes to making decisions about our hospital facilities and services. I regularly attend Governor and Board meetings and liaise with patients and their families, sometimes greeting people at the entrance of Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, and occasionally visiting patients who would otherwise be on their own. My background is teaching health and social care and working with the CQC on inspections. When I took early retirement, it made sense to use my knowledge in supporting my local Foundation Trust.
When I heard that the New Hospitals Programme was looking for Governors from the local NHS Trusts to help raise awareness of the programme, I jumped at the chance to get involved. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve hospital facilities in our region and a chance to address some of the issues that are discussed in our Governors’ meetings and when speaking to patients in local hospitals.
Since I became involved with the programme, I’ve been helping to distribute New Hospitals Programme information postcards to patients in the Nightingale Hub and Discharge Lounge at Royal Preston Hospital, the Discharge Lounge at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital and the Children’s Development Centre in Leyland. I have also attended meetings with local community groups to explain more about the programme in person. So far, I have attended meetings with the Leyland Historical Society, the Lancashire Carers forum and an event organised by the Leyland Primary Care Network, which aims to provide the community with health and wellbeing support. In addition, my hairdresser, David Thomas situated in Penwortham agreed to give the New Hospitals Programme postcards to all his clients, and I have also hand-delivered postcards to homes in my locality.
I have found that there are still lots of questions from residents about the New Hospitals Programme, which is why the role of Ambassador is so important. Many local people are sceptical when finding out about the programme, particularly those in Chorley, where the future plans for Chorley and South Ribble Hospital have been in debate for some time. People need reassurance and to know that their opinions and concerns have been heard. We are still at an early stage in the programme and it may be 2030 before we see any new facilities being opened.
On a practical level, there are several common themes amongst everyone I’ve spoken to regarding their hopes and wishes for the new hospital facilities. Easy access to public transport taking patients to the new facilities is the main hope for the future along with improved car parking facilities, ensuring transport is simple for everyone, whether they can drive or not. We have also had lots of discussions with residents and clinicians about future-proofing our hospitals, bearing in mind what has been learnt throughout the pandemic. We’ve seen, for example, that more space is needed between beds to comply with social distancing rules and more air filters are required to improve air circulation in our buildings. Many people are hoping for more inpatient single rooms, although this isn’t the preferred option for everyone as some can feel isolated and staff need to easily be able to observe their patients. We have also discussed the whole patient experience and how this can be improved before people arrive at our hospitals. We can do this by ensuring appointment letters and text messages are clear and easy to understand.
Overall, through the Ambassador role, I have seen how important it is for conversations about the New Hospitals Programme to continue. There are many ways for local people to get involved and have their say. As an Ambassador it is my role to listen, provide reassurance and give feedback to the New Hospitals Programme team to ensure local voices are truly represented at every step of the way.
Read more about the shortlist of proposals for new hospital facilities in our region.
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