Amanda Pritchard visits Queen Elizabeth Hospitals shaping today’s NHS

21 Jun 2023
Amanda Pritchard
NHS South East London

Queen Elizabeth Hospital welcomed NHS England Chief Executive Officer Amanda Pritchard on her second visit to Greenwich within a few days recently.

Among the highlights were hearing about and seeing in practice improvements in maternity services, the Emergency Department, and the recently opened diagnostic imaging centre.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust clinicians and managers were joined by Angela Helleur, South East London ICB’s chief nurse, for the visit.

Angela said: “It was interesting to see the consensus during our conversations around the importance of system-wide collaboration and support. It was great to see Amanda provided with practical examples of how the leadership, determination and drive of local clinicians is improving care for our residents.”

The hospital’s diagnostic centre, which Amanda toured, opened in October as part of a £9 million investment in imaging and other diagnostics by the Trust over the last five years.

Some 20 patients a week can now have MRI scans locally – rather than travelling outside the borough. The centre’s CT scanner has doubled the Trust’s/hospital on-site capacity.

As well as being less prone to shutdowns and expensive maintenance, the new machines can help with procedures like biopsies and faster diagnosis of conditions such as head, neck and chest cancers. Eight months on the centre is already having an impact on the Trust’s monthly diagnostics and cancer referral performance with 99.6% Radiology performance in the last available data.

That impact bodes well for the potential of the forthcoming full opening of Eltham Community Hospital’s community diagnostic centre, which Amanda also heard about. The £15 million facility, one of the first in the Department of Health and Social Care’s national community diagnostic centre programme, is already providing a phlebotomy service and non-obstetric ultrasound.

It is a collaboration with Community Health Partnerships and Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation.

Respiratory and cardiac diagnostics are expected to be available shortly. When fully operational, the Eltham centre will be delivering over 64,000 additional tests and 22,000 extra blood tests per year.

The imminent arrival of the community diagnostic centre at Eltham Community Hospital, which is the host site for this exciting new system-wide facility, was also highlighted by Angela. She said clinicians emphasised to Amanda that this facility will build on recent investment in a similar suite at Queen Elizabeth Hospital that has boosted productivity.

Other highlights included innovative new approaches to recruitment, retention and staff wellbeing in maternity services – including overhauling its approach to rostering by adopting the ‘any hours’ and ‘any specialty’ system. This means that rather than allocating midwives and other staff to specific shifts, they can sign up to work shifts where there are gaps – and can also work in different sub-specialties for up to 15 hours a month. The ‘any hours’ approach ensures there is a “two way street” feel to rostering while ‘any specialties’ supports career development.

The Trust has also emulated partners across south east London in partnering with local advocacy groups Five x More (Birthing with Colour wallets) and the Maternity Voices Partnership to give a voice to pregnant women and new mothers.

Among the other innovations Amanda heard about is a partnership with Oxleas NHS Partnership Trust which sees mental health professionals based in the hospital’s emergency department.

Trust Chief Executive Ben Travis said: “It was brilliant to have the opportunity to catch up with Amanda, and for clinicians and other colleagues to be able to tell her what we’re doing, and what we plan to do, to really take Queen Elizabeth Hospital into the future on a strong footing.”