I am proud to have made the following nominations in the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2022.

The nationally shortlisted entrants will be announced on June 13 and the Awards Ceremony will be held on July 6.

Excellence in Healthcare - Nichola Mitchinson, Nursing Sister at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Nichola is passionate about improving standards and in particular supporting her staff to develop and gain knowledge and skills to support the patients in their care.  

Nichola has, despite all the pressures of a busy and dynamic work area in extremely challenging times, taken a proactive approach to staff development.  She has supported several members of staff to access apprenticeship programmes and can be applauded for seeing the potential for developing individuals who work in the area and likely to be retained in the local service, and how in so doing, the benefits for patients with continuity of care delivered locally.  

Nichola’s vision has resulted in several health care support workers being trained as registered nurses through apprenticeship programmes and, by doing so, has secured staff to help meet the current service need and provided support for future apprentices.  

Her provision of a programme of training across all staff groups is an exemplar for others.

The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award - LINK (Barnardo's Young People Social Prescribing Service)

The Primary Care Network teams in three of our rural Primary Care Networks (PCNs) identified a growing need to support children and young people struggling with a range of issues related to emotional wellbeing.  

These included social and rural isolation, deprivation, issues around gender identity and sexuality and mental health issues such as low mood and anxiety.

Led by GP Dr Richard Massey, the three PCNs partnered with Barnardo’s to engage a group of children and young people and co-design the service. This collaborative group then included children and young people in the interview process for the LINK workers. 

The LINK service offers a ‘non-medical’ solution that provides a holistic approach to managing some of the issues young people face today – many of which have been heightened by the challenges faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Worries and anxiety about isolation, identity, school, exams, and parents and carers working on the frontline have all increased over the last couple of years.

The service for 5-19 year olds was co-designed with local children of primary and secondary school ages, who were involved with recruitment, branding and advising on service aims and delivery. LINK practitioners were brought on board to the service in March 2020, the day of the first lockdown.

The LINK team have been dynamic in shaping and delivering a brand new service, alongside the young people it supports. The scope of the work that LINK is undertaking is shifting and adapting to meet the needs of the people it serves, examples of this include – well-being drop ins within school communities, the development of an LGBTQ+ co-production group for young people, the volunteer programme that is currently seeing all LINK volunteers actively working directly with young people supporting them.

Since September 2020, there have been around 350 referrals into the LINK service. In a recent independent evaluation, 88% of young people interviewed felt less isolated due to working with the LINK service. 

The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award - A&E Teams at the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

An urgent and emergency care improvement plan led by the Accident and Emergency Departments at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital is delivering a wide range of improvements to the service received by the local population.
Confidence in the improvement plan developed by the team themselves has enabled the trust to invest £6m in permanent staffing in the departments and establish a same day emergency care service at  Whitehaven and Carlisle.  The investment has been made to maintain safety in the department and has enabled us to increase the nursing and medical workforce to meet the significant rise in demand.  

Last year, the Trust was issued with a warning notice by the CQC over safety standards in the department. Since then, our clinical teams have taken swift action to deliver rapid improvements in patient safety including improvements in triage and ensuring clinical oversight where we do experience delays.  

In addition to this, the improvement plan has seen huge improvements in the ambulance handover process including a new process to ensure better visibility of patients coming in by ambulance and piloting an ambulance liaison co-ordinator in the department.  This has improved ambulance turnaround times, with ambulance service colleagues praising the Trust for its work. Some of the Trust's consultants who also work for the Great North Air Ambulance charity are also developing a pathway to ensure retrievals from the department to specialist centres can take place where required. 

This new investment has enabled us to significantly increase the nursing and medical workforce in the departments including over 30 nurses, 60 healthcare assistants and additional senior medical decision makers including two consultants which have now been appointed to.   

A new cohort of Emergency Department Advanced Care Practitioners are now in post and have completed a comprehensive induction plan from the Trust.

The improvements that have been made have undoubtedly benefited patients using the A&E departments across West and North Cumbria.  

Although the department remains exceptionally busy, the increased staffing levels and improved clinical oversight of patients in the department has directly benefitted those patients.

The Excellence in Primary Care and Community Care Award - Practice Development CAPES Team at the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Cumbria is one of the most sparsely populated and primarily rural counties. Many of our community nurses live and work in remote areas. Developing their skills in order to improve patient care can mean several hours of driving. The team had to look at how to take learning to them.

Bespoke clinical carousels put on for individual community teams within their own work areas delivered training in 3-4 skills a day. Manikins set up in coffee rooms and on desks aided delivery.

MELISSA (Mobile Educational Learning, Improving Simulation and (patient) Safety Activities) a double-decker ex-London bus was booked. This is parked up in community venues and has seen over 40 competencies achieved in a single day. We target the more remote communities and ensure training is available on the doorstep. Utilising the open awnings has also made it Covid safe. This single innovation has made a huge difference to our community staff.

The team also works directly with staff, supporting them in the practice of new skills when others aren’t available and have supported clinical educators to aid with this element.

A concurrent programme of regular training is run throughout the county. These programmes are open system wide and the team actively encourages staff from primary care and the care home sector to attend. By ensuring staff in all areas have the necessary skills we improve the patient experience and also patient flow. 

Technology enhanced workshops have also been made available utilising Teams, Nearpod, Mentimeter, amongst others. This has improved access for all teams and has reduced travel to sites thus saving them time and money.

Taking training to their workplaces ensures our staff have all of the necessary skills to allow our patients to be treated closer to home, thus improving their experience of healthcare.

This innovation has supported patients to be treated in the right environment at the right time. Discharge from hospital has been expedited and admissions avoided. Patients can receive quality care from their local community team which aids their recovery. 

The Future NHS Award - North Cumbria Health Pathways

The introduction of Community Health Pathways was inspired by the New Zealand model and working with colleagues in the North East who were already on the journey. 

The resource went live in March 2020 and the first pathways were Covid-related which helped establish the webpages as a go-to for clear up-to-date clinical pathway information. While fourth in the UK for developing the community pathways, the team are expanding into hospital pathways, and will be the first in the Northern Hemisphere to have both pathways working.

The pathways are informed by local opportunities and referral routes and are written by clinical editors and subject matter experts who test it back with clinicians before they go live. It provides a live, up-to-date method for understanding the pathway and referral route for a range of conditions and is ‘the way we do things in North Cumbria’.

For patients, it means they get a more consistent approach following the most up-to-date guidelines which may additionally involve (where appropriate) signposting to local third sector organisations.

For health professionals it provides an up-to-date resource, accessible anywhere, on a range of subjects to add to their own local knowledge, a resource they can use the manage patients according to how pathways work in North Cumbria and crucially is highly valued by locums who may not have relationships with other colleagues in practice, across primary care in secondary care or the third sector.  

It is valued by established clinicians by providing a one stop shop for clinical information specifically relevant to North Cumbria. There are now 236 localised Community Health Pathways for North Cumbria. 

The Nursing and Midwifery Award - Maternity teams at the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Despite dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, the maternity teams across the Trust have improved the patient experience for women and babies during their stay. 

Recently released CQC maternity survey results placed the Trust as one of only seven trusts in the country rated as much better than expected.  The survey was sent to all women who gave birth in February 21 during the third COVID-19 national lockdown.   

For women to be giving such positive feedback is fantastic, particularly in this survey which was conducted during the third COVID-19 national lockdown. To hear how pleased the majority of women were despite giving birth during a pandemic is a credit to our teams.

This feedback has also been a great boost to morale for staff.

The Trust has recently taken on the largest amount of students ever and this cohort included more midwifery students. Through inspiring and recruiting the right people and our commitment to improve, we can provide best care for all women and their families.

The COVID Response Award - Paul Fieldhouse and the Vaccine Team at the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

The vaccination team at NCIC, led by Paul Fieldhouse, was instrumental in ensuring some of the first COVID-19 vaccines in the world were brought to West Cumberland Hospital on 8th December 2020.

Paul Fieldhouse, our Clinical Director of Pharmacy, ensured all of the correct conditions were in place to bring the vaccine to patients, care home staff and Trust staff in West Cumbria first.

Paul’s leadership of the vaccination team during the pandemic has been key to the success of the vaccination programme in NCIC. 

Paul has led the response for NCIC and the team have ensured that all legal requirements were met, ordering, storage, training, planning, administration and recording of the vaccines were all done appropriately and in a Covid safe and secure environment. 

It is difficult to measure the exact impact that the vaccination team has had but they have delivered vaccinations to thousands of staff members across our health economy, providing protection for staff and ensuring the ongoing delivery of health services for our population.