Party time on the wards as trust celebrates a milestone

Welcome to this month's On The Ward column on this special day for the National Health Service.

Friday, 6th July 2018, 2:05 pm
Members of the team in the refurbished oncology day unit at Berwick.

As you may be aware, today (Thursday) is the 70th birthday of the NHS and our trust, like other similar organisations across the country, is marking this occasion in a variety of ways.

We are creating a party atmosphere in all of our hospitals, and our patients on the ward here at Berwick Infirmary are today enjoying birthday cake.

Radiographers Dorothy Thomas and Christine Buckley with radiographer helper Sheila Dixon with the new digital x-ray department at Berwick Infirmary. Picture by Gavin Duthie.

Yesterday, we held a service at St Aidan’s Church in Thockrington, where Lord Beveridge, who founded the NHS, is buried.

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A small group of those gathered then walked from the church to Hexham Abbey for a special service in the evening.

The service was an opportunity to mark this milestone of the National Health Service and look to the future with prayer and dedication, and it was lovely to see so many people there.

We’re involving the public to produce a special embroidery for display at Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington.

And we are also holding Strictly-style tea dances at seven of our sites, featuring various local dance groups, so it’s a busy time for our trust.

There has also been a lot of coverage on television, both regionally and nationally, about the anniversary, and I’m pleased to say that Berwick has featured a couple of times.

On Monday, Marion Dickson, who many of you may know from her 40-year and counting career in the NHS, which began at Berwick Infirmary back in the late 1970s, was on Tyne Tees News.

Marion is passionate about the health service and it was great to hear that come across in the interview piece.

Even though she now works in management, and was recently named chief operating officer (delivery) of our trust, Marion’s clinical background helps her in her day-to-day role, and patients are always at the heart of everything she does.

Tonight, we are expecting Berwick to feature again on Tyne Tees News as part of a piece looking at how the NHS has changed over the years.

It will be showcasing the vital role community nurses play in the trust by showing how regular visits by matron Carolyn Garven improve the quality of life of patient Irene Borthwick by enabling her to stay in her own home and, most importantly, out of hospital.

The health service has changed so much in the last seven decades and this anniversary is a fitting opportunity to shine the spotlight on this.

Thanks to advances in diagnostics, medical treatments and surgical techniques, procedures which were once only carried out in specialist centres are now commonplace, even in small, local hospitals.

People also spend much less time in hospital than they did.

Where at one time a knee operation could require a full 14-day stay in a general hospital, patients now can be in and out in less than one day.

In the same way, more care is now being delivered closer to the people we serve – out in the community and in people’s homes.

These factors have, of course, led to changes in our trust.

You will recall that three years ago we centralised our emergency care services in one place with the opening of our Northumbria hospital at Cramlington. This was done to improve care for patients who are most seriously ill or injured by having round-the-clock access to senior clinical decision-makers.

We know that some people in Berwick and the surrounding area who have had to go to The Northumbria hospital after their loved one has been transported by ambulance have found it difficult to find.

The hospital is sign-posted and I would urge people to follow these signs from the A1 and continue on the A19 until there are more signs at Moor Farm roundabout.

From there, you should take the A189 (Spine Road) towards Ashington and Blyth, and then the first slip-road to East Cramlington.

I must stress that the hospital is not in Cramlington town itself, however, just off the A189 at East Cramlington.

There is a video of the route you take from the A1 coming from the North on the Northumbria hospital page of our website – – which is so much easier to follow.

If you do have to visit a loved one in The Northumbria hospital, it is worth remembering that we provide a dedicated, free, daily car service, which leaves Berwick Infirmary to arrive in time for visiting time, returning afterwards.

To book this car service please call our porters on 01289 356664.

While on the subject of transport, we would urge people who need help to get to a medical appointment to contact the patient transport service as detailed on appointment letters.

And if they are turned down for this, they should appeal the decision.

If they remain unsuccessful in their application, and they are a patient at either of the two GP practices in Berwick needing to access Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington or The Northumbria Hospital in Cramlington, please give us a ring on 01289 356604 and we will see what we can arrange for you as part of a pilot scheme that we’re running.

Returning to advances in healthcare and improvements in patient care, last month we held the official opening of our new digital x-ray equipment and refurbished oncology unit at Berwick – an investment of around £180,000.

Hospital staff past and present gathered with patients, fund-raisers and local dignitaries to celebrate the improvements and see Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan unveil the plaques.

It was a great to see so many people there.

The improvements are really making a difference to our patients and it’s fantastic that we now have the latest diagnostic technology available for patients here.

The oncology day unit has been refurbished to a very high standard and it is now such a warm and bright welcoming space for patients to receive their treatment.

It doesn’t feel clinical at all, which is so important for patients and their families, and the artwork of Berwick on the walls finish the unit off perfectly.

Both facilities are assets to the hospital and the investments demonstrate the trust’s commitment to providing services in Berwick and delivering care closer to home.

As you are aware, we are working with the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group and Northumberland County Council on plans for a new healthcare facility in Berwick, and the newly-installed equipment will transfer to the new facility.

All in all, it is an exciting time for the National Health Service, and Berwick Infirmary.

That just leaves me to wish you all a happy and healthy summer, and let’s hope this good weather that we have been enjoying of late holds out a bit longer.