Dale Travis is the Deputy Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.
The NHS really is amazing, and I am hit with immense pride everyday when I put on my blue lanyard. My role is really varied and includes working with our staff to help manage patient demand on a day-to-day basis, as well as to improve the quality of our health services for our patients through improvement programmes. The work I lead on aims to make services future proof, by implementing technologies and making services more efficient.
Currently, there is a huge amount of focus on recovering services after the Covid pandemic. For example, some patients have delayed seeking medical advice and this has led to some of them being sicker when they first arrive at our hospitals. This has a huge impact on our front door, our bed capacity and places strain on our waiting lists for operations and diagnostic treatments.
I love working for the NHS because of the camaraderie between staff members, who work incredibly hard for our patients, but I feel it is much harder to work for the NHS now, than it’s ever been. There is more demand, higher scrutiny from the media and increased patient expectation, as well as more recruitment difficulties than before. This has led to the hardest winter I’ve ever experienced.
When we are particularly busy, we have to be innovative with how we manage our patients to ensure there is enough space for more patients coming in. We do this by making the most of our virtual wards, implementing changes in how we discharge patients and by making the most of the capacity across the Trust’s three hospital sites. I see my role as a difficult jigsaw puzzle, I’m making decisions on how to get the best outcomes for patients, but the decisions are often very difficult to make, and they are not obvious at first glance.
My projects that support staff are also so important and it’s the little things that make the difference, such as mobile tea caddies for staff that can’t get away from the clinical areas, and wellbeing zones so that they have the chance to relax. Counselling for staff is also incredibly valuable.
The NHS has always been there when I have needed it, including for 2 emergency operations. The NHS was there when I needed them most, so I believe the best I can do is be there for the NHS when it needs me.