All Staff Update, Friday 24 July 2020

In this edition:

  • A message from Suzanne Tracey
  • NDHT figures at a glance
  • COVID-19 secure: are you following the guidelines?
  • Staff risk assessments
  • Wellbeing message for shielding staff
  • Reciprocal swabbing arrangement
  • Changes to room booking
  • Executive webinar topics
  • Fern Centre now taking appointments
  • Staff physiotherapy service
  • Appeal for board games
  • Thank you:  North & East CHC teams

A message from Suzanne Tracey, chief executive

NDHT and RD&E to work together on recruitment to key nursing leadership roles

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust have been working ever more closely together to ensure we provide the best possible care to the communities we serve in north, central and east Devon.

Since the Trusts announced last year that they would be working together more closely, we have seen teams increasingly sharing resources, experiences and knowledge to enhance our operational response and support each other. The way we worked together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined once again the benefits of working collaboratively to meet complex challenges. The pandemic has helped forge an even stronger partnership that will enable us to continue to meet the challenges we face going forwards.

As a result of imminent changes to the nursing leadership across both Trusts with Darryn Allcorn, chief nurse at NDHT joining the CCG in September and the term of the interim chief nurse post at RD&E coming to an end in October, the Boards at both Trusts have agreed the need to stabilise the nursing leadership and to continue to foster the collaboration between the Trusts. To this end we will shortly be recruiting the following posts:

  • A joint chief nursing officer (across NDHT and RD&E)
  • Director of nursing (RD&E)
  • Director of nursing (NDHT)

In a similar model to the existing joint executive posts across the Trusts (chief executive, medical director, chief operating officer, and director of people) the joint chief nursing officer (CNO) will hold Board level accountability for nursing across both sites which includes quality, safety and risk, safeguarding and patient experience, as well as being the professional lead for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals.

The joint CNO will be supported by a director of nursing at each site, who will be responsible for day to day delivery of a high quality safe service, including quality targets and operational decision making as a member of the site leadership team. This will support us to strengthen the day to day operational management of both sites, whilst creating a management triumvirate as a further step towards joint working.

Taking this approach will also support us to address the recruitment challenges we face in the region. With both Trusts requiring nursing leadership, it makes sense for us to recruit together to ensure we get the best possible leaders rather than competing for talent.

Given the current position in the nursing division and the evolving partnership between the organisations, this is a logical next step but I want to reassure you that no other changes are planned at this time. Any further changes to the management structure will be taking place over the course of the next few years as we work ever more closely together.

I recognise how important it is that we keep you up to date with our thinking as we continue to work across NDHT and the RD&E to explore joining together more formally. If you have any questions or comments, please raise them through your line manager, head of department, or as ever, feel free to stop members of the executive teams if you see us on site or raise at your next staff briefing opportunity.

Update from the COVID-19 Co-ordination Cell

NDHT figures at a glance

COVID-19 secure: we must all follow the guidelines

 In the staff update on Tuesday 14 July Jill Canning updated you on the media coverage of the closure of Hillingdon Hospital’s Emergency Department, following track and trace of a member of staff who tested positive for COVID-19. 70 members of staff were required to self-isolate, and the subsequent investigation showed this was due to a failure to follow social-distancing and face-covering guidelines.

The risk of something similar happening to NDHT is very real. There have been a number of reports recently of staff moving tables in the restaurant so they can sit together in large groups and members of the public have highlighted groups of staff sitting closely together outside. When challenged staff have been rude and have said that they believe that as they work together this is acceptable – it is not.

Unless we take COVID-secure measures seriously, we could find our own Trust leading the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

It is vitally important that we keep two metres apart at all times unless wearing a face covering. Remember also to regularly clean surfaces in work and break spaces.

All staff should feel empowered to remind colleagues of our responsibilities, and to find solutions that enable teams to continue to take breaks and rest safely. Please also ensure you treat colleagues with respect and courtesy.

We know that eating and drinking present a particular risk. We are working to put in place solutions that will provide greater physical space for staff to take breaks and for eating, but while these are in progress, we would ask you please to be patient and creative in finding ways to manage meal and break times. Consider staggering your break times in your team and make use of outdoor areas in a socially distanced manner during the fine weather.

The continued safety of patients and our services could rest on the actions of all of us.

Staff risk assessments

Last week we shared important information regarding the need for staff who are not currently working due to shielding or being deemed ‘high risk’ of COVID-19 to undertake a new, online risk assessments (RA) prior to their return to work. This online RA tool has been shared with these staff today.

The new, online RA asks staff questions about their health and produces an individual’s risk ‘score’ relating to COVID-19. Once the employee submits the online form their line manager will receive an email link to complete the workplace questions for that employee. Line managers also need to arrange a return to work planning conversation to discuss any required mitigating actions.

If staff experience any changes to their health, medication or work area they will need to complete another online RA.

Next week we will make the online RA available for other staff groups and will be encouraging all staff to complete their online RA, particularly staff in the following groups:

  1. Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff (BAME)
  2. White European ethnicity aged over 60
  3. Male staff
  4. Individuals with underlying health conditions (Hypertension, CVD, DM, CKD, COPD, Obesity)
  5. Pregnant staff

This online tool will be updated as we monitor the national COVID-19 risk information for any new, relevant medical evidence and the system will be reviewed periodically. This might mean that you are advised that your COVID-19 risk factor has changed or that you need to undertake a further risk assessment.

Guidance for the staff risk assessments can be found here on the COVID-19 pages and include:

  • The workplace assessment and categorisation tool – the different areas of the Trust, their levels of risk and the PPE or additional steps required for safer working
  • A vulnerability levels and workplace considerations matrix – a tool to help discuss the individual’s risk score for their workplace
  • Return to work discussion form – to help raise any concerns and agree actions highlighted from the risk assessment process
  • A welcome back leaflet for staff returning to work – helpful information for those staff who may not have been on site to keep them up to date with changes and to help prepare them for their safe return
  • Frequently asked questions.

Please note that the RD&E occupational health team manage NDHT’s occupational health services. Information on this tool will be used to do the risk assessment and your contact details will be used to communicate with you if necessary.

Exeter occupational health service will hold and process your medical assessment information in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 as amended by the GDPR 2016. Further information about this and your rights under this Act is available on the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust website

If you have any queries, please contact occupational health on

Line managers

 In addition to the tools mentioned above that are available on the COVID-19 pages line managers can request a place on the ‘Manager’s staff risk assessment briefings’ by emailing

The next briefings are:

  • Monday 27 July, 11.30am to 12.30pm, or
  • Wednesday 29 July 12om to 1pm.

These sessions are recorded so don’t worry if you can’t attend one, you can watch them here.

A wellbeing message about shielding staff returning to the workplace

As many of you will know the shielding advice from the government is changing from Saturday 1 August 2020.

We have a number of staff that have been shielding during the past few months, and the organisation is committed to supporting these staff to return safely to the workplace over the coming weeks.

Please note that shielding staff have now been asked to complete a risk assessment before their return to work.

We are mindful that for shielding staff coming back to work may bring mixed feelings: excitement, relief, or it may cause worries and anxieties – all of which are normal. You may find yourself worrying about how you will travel to work, or the changes that have taken place in the workplace e.g. the need to wear surgical masks, social distancing measures, changes to desk and seating arrangements, changes to entry and exit points, use of toilet and kitchen areas, etc.

It is very normal to feel anxious at this time, but please be reassured that the organisation, your manager and your colleagues will do their upmost to support you as you adapt to the new ways of working and integrate back into the team. You may like to make a note of your key worries and discuss these with your manager before returning.

We also want to encourage all staff about the importance of supporting your colleagues as they return to the workplace. A number of changes have been implemented in the workplace in the past four months, so please take the time to support your colleagues to adjust to these new ways of working.

Please click here to watch a short video.

Finally, we look forward to welcoming our returning staff back and to them working alongside their teams again.

Reciprocal arrangement on swabbing

A reciprocal agreement to prevent patients having to travel to other Devon hospitals for a COVID-19 swab where they live nearer to another hospital has now been formally agreed.

A form must be completed and submitted for any NDHT patients who would benefit from receiving a swab prior to a procedure or treatment at either Plymouth, Exeter or Torbay hospital.

We believe this process will help the NDHT services not based in North Devon.

The referrer who completes the form will receive the test results. The form can be accessed here:

Changes to meeting room booking procedure

Owing to COVID-19 the number of meeting rooms available onsite is extremely limited. Some rooms have had to be taken out of use to allow social distancing.

A new booking procedure is in place for the following rooms:

  • Raleigh Galley Meeting Room
  • Chichester Boardroom
  • Facilities Meeting Room

Meeting rooms can be booked by contacting extension 5952, Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 3:30pm. Rooms will be booked on a first come, first served basis and allocated based on number of attendees.

Please note that keys for the Chichester Boardroom are now collected from the NDHT main reception or porters lodge.

For full details of the facilities in all of these rooms please visit the NDDH Meeting Room Bookings page on BOB.

Updates from the executive team

Executive webinar: the topics you chose

The next Trust executive webinar will take place at noon on Monday 27 July and these are the topics which staff across NDHT and RD&E have chosen for discussion:

  • NDHT & RD&E collaboration
  • Health Infrastructure Plan: what is it and what does it mean for the South West NHS?
  • Shielding staff: risk assessments/return to work & annual leave and holidays abroad.

To take part in the webinar you will need to register at

Other news

Fern Centre now taking appointments

The Over and Above Fern Centre, North Devon’s new Cancer and Wellbeing Centre, will be open to patients affected by cancer, their family and carers on an appointment only basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning on Tuesday 28th July.

These appointments will be available to one person per appointment and will allow visitors the opportunity to see the Centre, find out about the support services we have available during Covid-19 as well as completing any referrals to services they may wish to access. In order to minimise risk as much as possible appointments will last a maximum of 30 minutes per person, face masks will be worn by staff and visitors at all times and social distancing will be practiced.

Our first appointments will be available on Tuesday 28th July. To book an appointment please contact the Fern Centre on 01271 311 855 or email the Centre at

For more information on visiting the centre, see our website

Staff physiotherapy service

The staff physiotherapy service is still available to all staff and is currently running virtual consultations.

If you would like a physiotherapy consultation please complete a referral form which can be found on BOB, email it to your manager, who will need to forward it to Occupational Health.

Once occupational health has received your referral you will be contacted to arrange a convenient date and time for your first appointment.  Face to face appointments can be considered following the initial assessment.

Wanted: board games and DVDs for overseas nurses

Do you have any board games or DVDs you could donate?

We have a number of new nurses arriving from overseas on the 12 August, and they will have to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive. Board games  and DVDs will help them pass the time and make them feel welcome as they adapt to their new lives in North Devon.

The new nurses are arriving from Dubai and the Philippines, and following their isolation period will join their clinical areas to work whilst studying for their OSCE.

If you have any items you would like to donate please contact Carly or Tracey on extension 3801.

Thank you: North & East CHC team

Today’s thank you comes from Lynne Stokes, Lead Nurse – Continuing Healthcare.

She says: “I would like to thank both the North and East CHC team for all their hard work and patience during these unprecedented times.

“It has been difficult time with the NHS Continuing Healthcare framework paused and all our ‘business as normal’ turned upside down.

“The teams have responded to NHSE call to support care homes; they provide training virtually to care homes; supported living providers and domiciliary care providers regarding correct use of PPE and infection control.

“They have continued with case management and case coordination supporting the community teams and care home providers who manage our complex cases in the community.

“They have adapted to working from home, which has been challenged by IT and WiFi issues.

“Some team members have been redeployed and worked to the best of their ability.

“It has to be noted that when the NHS Continuing Healthcare framework is reset the teams will have to work harder and smarted to work through a backlog of cases to screen for CHC

“It has been my pleasure to be a Lead Nurse for the Northern CHC Team.”

Posted in coronavirus.

Last updated: July 24, 2020