The past year has been both challenging and enjoyable. Taking on my new role felt a little overwhelming at first but now I can look back and see the improvements we’ve made to the service. It has definitely come on a long way for patients and for colleagues like me since Virgin Care and the CCG began their new partnership in May 2017 and I’m really proud of that.
One of the major challenges after the transfer was engaging colleagues in our new mission as part of Virgin Care. That’s something I’ve really focused on, because if colleagues are happier and morale is better, then the service they provide is better and at the end of the day what matters is patients.
I’ve made many small changes here that I think have made a big difference to the engagement and motivation of colleagues overall. These have included things like asking our teams to work across both urgent care centres rather than just at one, and formalising one-to-ones and introducing staff training.
Colleagues say it’s a pleasure to come into work now, and you can feel that in the atmosphere in the department.
As well as boosting morale, the changes we’ve made together have improved the quality of the service across Skelmersdale and Ormskirk Urgent Care Centres. Now, regardless of which site patients attend, they will receive the same high standard of care.
And that’s what has been really important to the whole team. Improving care.
Since we started looking at the services, I’ve been empowered to recruit a paramedic who works across both centres. It’s a really innovative move for a walk-in centre – as far as I know, no others in our region have one – but it’s been a really positive step.
He’s used to seeing trauma and handling patients who have a whole range of conditions, and having him as part of the team has really brought a whole new element.
Recruitment and retention are huge issues for the NHS, particularly within specialist areas, so while we knew that we needed to recruit someone able to bring the kinds of talents the paramedic has, I had to think outside the box.
Virgin Care is really supportive of training colleagues to develop new skills rather than just recruiting someone new where it’s going to make an impact on the service for patients. I’m pleased because I’ve been working on that with the team and supporting triage nurses to train so they can work as independent practitioners.
A large aspect of my role is creating a vision for the future. One of the reasons I took it on was because I saw the potential of the service and the partnership between Virgin Care and the local NHS and how we could improve the service for colleagues and for patients, and I wanted to be a part of that.
Having now delivered it for quite a while, I still do – and I’m excited for the future too.
Jacqui is at gateway point now and preparing for the End Point Assessment of her Level 3 Senior Healthcare Worker Apprenticeship. She said, “From the first day my whole team have been supportive and encouraging. They want me to be the best I can be”.
Kim is currently halfway through her second year of the Level 5 Healthcare Assistant Practitioner apprenticeship. She said, “I would recommend this apprenticeship as a good opportunity to develop new skills and confidence.”
For this year’s National Apprenticeship week Sarah talks us through the challenges that learners have faced this year, and the benefits of apprenticeships for both the learners and their organisations.
Lead Nurse Amanda Pulford gives us an insight to what it’s like working in a prison.