The Way I See It - A Message from Dr. McBride


February sees the days beginning to stretch and is often the month when, if we look closely enough, signs of winter begin to abate.

‘Nature often reflects our mood and at this time of year there is an expectation of better days ahead, of hope renewed. Nowhere was this more evident than during my recent visit to the Cancer Centre and Haematology Service. Walking through the doors, I tried to see and experience how it feels for the patients and their families who come every day. Many will be frightened and feel vulnerable; others calm and accepting; and some still hopeful with the expectation of treatment and care in this tremendous facility with its extraordinary staff. I was truly taken-aback by the advances in medical science, how we are pushing back the frontiers of healthcare, how new technology, techniques and treatments are improving the lives of those we care for. There was something else, something more, something special, and it was there all around me in the remarkable people I met - the staff, those who really do put patients first, each time, every time and above all else. I cannot praise you enough, from the warm greeting at reception to the care in the clinics, specialist treatment areas and wards. As one patient I spoke to said of the staff, "...they make me feel safe, in control again, as if I am the most important person that day...”. 

‘The “Hello My Name Is …” campaign really is embodied in the Cancer Centre and is a campaign that I want us all to champion throughout the Trust. I think of the patient who told me she was so impressed with her oncologist, when, at their first appointment, he came out to the waiting room to meet her and said he felt like he was greeting an old friend, so familiar was he with her case. These small actions, the introduction, the reassuring smile, the gentle touch are often the difference between good clinical care and excellent patient or client experience. And it is excellence in patient and client care I want us to continue to strive for.

‘Daring to do the right thing is not always easy in health and social care. As Sir Liam Donaldson comments in his Report, “The Right Time, The Right Place”, Northern Ireland’s health and social care system is, “…A system under the microscope … [and] is subject to a high, perhaps unrivalled, level of media coverage – much of it negative.” In recent weeks, under unrelenting pressures and against a backdrop of staff doing the right thing, we continue to read difficult headlines. I am very proud and humbled by how I have seen you respond, exhausting though it has been for many of you. I want to assure you that I am fully supportive of your actions and efforts in managing these pressures. I recognise that staff are completely dedicated to ensuring that the care and safety of our patients and clients are put first. I am all too aware that the daily work of a number of our services has been interrupted and that patients have had procedures postponed - for that I am sorry and apologise. I realise how frustrating this is and I thank you for your continued support.

‘This month we launch “Let’s Talk Trust”. Based on your comments, we will redefine the corporate identity for the Trust; what we stand for, what's important to us and what guides us. I want to listen to and hear your views as the discussion begins throughout the organisation. I have been thinking long and hard about our identity, about what defines us, and I take a great deal of heart from the large number of thank you letters that come in to my office from people wishing to share their experience of our service. One such letter recently came from a man who was admitted with a heart attack. He mentions the “professionalism” and “expertise” of staff, and that he has “nothing but praise” for the people who saved his life. So as you make your way home from work today, take pride in the service you are part of; know that collectively we are making a difference to people’s lives, and as you notice the days lengthening take hope from the inspiration of nature.

‘And finally, please don't tell anyone, but an unerring sense of direction was never one of my strong points, so a huge thank you to all the members of the portering and security teams who have redirected me around the Trust in recent weeks - it's our secret!’