CEO Blog: Spring 2024

A message from Shropdoc CEO Daniel Robinson as Summer approaches

Celebrating Our Team: The Heart of Shropdoc's Social Mission

Here at Shropdoc, we wouldn't be delivering exceptional 24/7 care across England & Wales without the dedication and passion of our incredible staff. This quarter, I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for each and every one of our team.

The Power of "We" - Working for a Social Mission

Many of you may be curious - what exactly does it mean to work for a non-profit social enterprise like Shropdoc?  The answer lies in the fundamental difference between our mission and that of a traditional healthcare provider.

Our Mission “To keep the patients at the heart of all that we do”

Traditional independent private providers, while vital to the healthcare landscape, are primarily driven by profit margins. Here at Shropdoc, however, profit is not our driving force.  We are a social enterprise, which means our primary focus is on improving the lives of the communities we serve.  Any surplus funds we generate are reinvested back into our services, staff development, and innovative solutions to better meet the needs of our patients.

This shift in focus creates a truly unique work environment. Every decision we make, every interaction with a patient, becomes part of our collective social mission.  We are not just providing care – we are directly contributing to a healthier and happier community.

The Social Enterprise Advantage: It's All About Impact

Working in a social enterprise offers several advantages for our dedicated staff:

Meaningful Work: They are directly connected to the positive impact Shropdoc has on people's lives. Every patient interaction, every shift worked, makes a tangible difference.

Innovation and Collaboration: Unburdened by traditional hierarchies, Shropdoc fosters an environment where ideas are valued. We encourage collaboration across teams, allowing contributions to shape the future of our services.

Shared Success: Our success is not measured by shareholder value but by the well-being of our patients and the communities we serve. We are all working together on this, working towards a common goal.

Celebrating Contributions

The dedication our teams bring to their work, 24/7, is nothing short of extraordinary. They are the backbone of Shropdoc, the frontline heroes ensuring exceptional care for patients across England & Wales. Together, we are Shropdoc. Together, we are making a difference.

Our Commitment – Ensuring the Best for Our Patients

The impact we have on thousands of people across Shropshire, Powys and beyond does not go unnoticed - we regularly learn of patient stories that tell of staff going above and beyond, calls that made tough times easier and kind words that soothed and supported.

Here Dr Ian Tanswell shares a patient story demonstrating the power of compassion and teamwork:

Every day at Shropdoc, we strive to deliver excellent care, and at the heart of that mission lies a commitment to our patients. We believe the quality of care goes beyond just clinical expertise; it's about the entire experience, the human connection, and treating everyone with empathy, dignity, and respect. I want to share a powerful story that beautifully exemplifies this philosophy.

This story features a middle-aged woman who had been battling fatigue, cough, breathlessness, and a fever for a week. After contacting NHS 111, her case was referred to Shropdoc. From the very first interaction, the care and compassion shone through.

As the patient described: "From the moment I spoke on the telephone to the lady, I knew that I was talking with someone who was not only taking her job seriously but taking me seriously by showing compassion." 

Our nurse practitioner, during the phone triage, recognised potential signs of sepsis. While an ambulance was offered, the patient politely declined. This highlights the importance of shared decision-making. We listen to our patients' preferences and work collaboratively to create a plan that best suits their needs.

Following this, an urgent base appointment was arranged. Here, another member of our team, a non-medical clinician, provided a thorough assessment. The diagnosis of an acute respiratory infection was made, and after discussing preferred treatment options, a course of oral antibiotics was prescribed.

Three days later, the story takes an even more heart-warming turn. Through our website, the patient reported a significant improvement in her well-being. Furthermore, she admitted to previously having reservations about engaging with primary care due to past experiences. However, her interaction with Shropdoc completely transformed her perspective. In her own words, "…saved my opinion of the NHS."

This story embodies the essence of Shropdoc. It's a testament to the teamwork of our dedicated staff - the phone nurse who listened attentively, the clinician who provided expert care, and everyone behind the scenes who ensured a seamless operation.

Beyond that, it showcases the true power of compassion. A simple act of kindness can make a world of difference in a patient's experience. This story reminds us that even in the age of rapid medical advancements, the human touch in healthcare remains irreplaceable.

At Shropdoc, we are committed to building on these values. We will continue to prioritise patient-centred care, foster collaboration within our teams, and ensure that every interaction reflects our unwavering dedication to the well-being of our community. Thank you to this patient for sharing your story. It serves as a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.

Supporting our Communities 

Shropdoc’s recent ‘re-gifting’ initiative which ran throughout January and February saw staff donating unwanted Christmas gifts for the Severn Hospice.  Thank you so much to all of you who donated and to Sarah Paine from the HR team who took the donations to the Severn Hospice Shop at Bicton, Shrewsbury.

Assistant Manager at the shop, Stacey Hill, wanted us to share her gratitude:

 "This is amazing! I cannot believe how kind the people at Shropdoc have been. Large bags of lovely gifts and other items, including beauty gift sets, ornaments, books, toys and DVDs, which we can now sell to our local community, raising funds for Severn Hospice. Please can you pass on my heartfelt gratitude to each person who donated."

We will also be supporting Severn Hospice once again with a Dragon Boat team at the annual fundraising event on the river in Shrewsbury.

On July 21st, 16 rowers and a drummer will take to the water in a bid to be crowned Dragon Boat Race winners in the annual charity fundraiser run by the hospice.

By participating in this event in 2022 and 2023, our teams raised hundreds of pounds for the hospice and we are looking forward to raising more!

Recognising your Value

As we navigate the complexities of the NHS and the broader economic landscape, I want to address the recently announced FY24-25 pay awards for our dedicated staff at Shropdoc.

We understand that the NHS faces significant financial constraints, particularly in the current economic downturn. Despite these challenges, Shropdoc remains steadfast in our commitment to recognising and rewarding our people fairly.

A Balanced Approach

This year's pay awards have been carefully considered, taking into account several key factors:

  • NHS Funding: We've meticulously assessed the available NHS funding to ensure our awards are financially responsible and sustainable within the current environment.

  • Benchmarking: We've benchmarked our awards against industry standards to ensure they are competitive and reflect the valuable work you do.

  • Organisational Resilience/Sustainability: We've prioritised long-term organisational resilience, ensuring the stability of Shropdoc so we can continue to provide exceptional care for our communities.

  • Job Evaluations: Job evaluations were conducted for a number of key clinical roles to ensure internal pay equity and recognise the varied responsibilities across different roles.

Cost of Living:

We recognise the rising cost of living and its impact on many of our staff. While we may not be able to fully compensate for external factors, we have worked diligently with our commissioners to secure a level of funding that supports overall sustainability and allows for a fair pay rise.

Appreciation for Your Dedication

This year's awards are a testament to the tremendous value we place on our staff. Your dedication, expertise, and compassion are the cornerstone of Shropdoc's success in delivering high-quality healthcare.We understand that pay awards are just one piece of the puzzle. We remain committed to fostering a positive work environment that invests in your professional development and well-being.

Open Communication

We encourage you to review the details of the pay awards and reach out to your line manager if you have any questions. We are always open to feedback and want to ensure everyone feels valued and supported.

Standing Up for Our Team: Recognition and Reward for Shropdoc Staff

We at Shropdoc were recently disappointed to learn that our application to the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) regarding one-off non-consolidated pay awards for our staff was not successful.

While we appreciate the current financial constraints across the Health & Care Sector, we believe this decision unfairly disadvantages social enterprises like Shropdoc who play a vital role in the healthcare system. Our dedicated staff work alongside NHS professionals, delivering essential health and social care services and facing similar challenges. Denying them the same recognition and reward for their contributions creates an inequity that can negatively impact morale and recruitment efforts.

Fighting for Fairness

However, this setback will not deter us. Our commitment to our mission and the communities we serve remains unwavering. We are actively collaborating with local health commissioners and Social Enterprise UK to advocate for the crucial role social enterprises play in healthcare delivery.

A Unique Model, Exceptional Care

Shropdoc's social enterprise model offers a unique combination of community focus, efficiency, and high-quality care. We believe this model deserves recognition and reward for our dedicated staff.

Our Commitment Continues

We will continue to fight for equal opportunities for social enterprises like Shropdoc. Our staff are invaluable assets, and ensuring they are valued for their contributions to improving healthcare in our communities is paramount.

We at Shropdoc are proud of the work we do. This decision may be a temporary hurdle, but our dedication to our staff and our mission remains stronger than ever.

Building a Digital Future 

The world of urgent care is rapidly evolving. Here at Shropdoc, we understand the challenges – rising demand, longer wait times, and staffing shortages. But we also see immense opportunities for improvement through technology. That's why I'm thrilled to share that we have been working towards finalising our new digital roadmap, a plan to leverage digital capabilities and transform how we deliver urgent care in line with our Corporate Strategy in the years ahead. 

Why Digital?

The answer is simple: to provide exceptional urgent care, 24/7, to everyone in our community. Emerging technologies offer a wealth of possibilities:

  • Remote care and telehealth: Imagine virtual consultations that reduce in-person visits and wait times. This frees up valuable resources for those who truly need to be seen in person.

  • Data and analytics: Data can help us predict patient demand, optimise staffing, and identify areas for improvement. This translates to a more efficient operation and better care for all.

  • Patient engagement and empowerment: We want to empower patients with the tools and information they need to manage their health. This could include online appointment scheduling, secure patient portals, and educational resources.

These are just a few examples. Our digital roadmap will outline a three-year journey of transformation, with each year building upon the last. 

Year 1: Foundations & Optimisation

This year is all about building a strong foundation for the future. Here's what we'll be focusing on:

  • Upgrading our IT infrastructure: We're partnering with EBC to ensure our systems are secure, scalable, and compliant with data privacy regulations (read more about this exciting partnership elsewhere in this blog).

  • A new information portal: We're developing a secure and user-friendly portal to replace our existing information hub, providing patients with easier access to important information.

  • Data-driven decision-making: We'll harness data analytics to identify areas for improvement, optimise service delivery, and allocate resources effectively.

  • Streamlining workflows: Automating administrative tasks will free up staff time to focus on what matters most - patient care.

Year 2: Expansion & Integration

Year 3: Innovation & Sustainability

Building a Sustainable Future

Throughout this journey, we'll prioritise considerations like:

  • Needs and resources: We'll choose technologies that address our specific challenges and align with our budget.

  • Integration: New technologies will integrate seamlessly with existing systems to avoid disruption.

  • Data privacy and security: Robust data protection measures will build patient trust and ensure compliance with UK regulations.

  • Staff training: We'll equip our staff with the skills and knowledge to utilise these new technologies effectively.

By investing strategically in digital transformation, Shropdoc is poised to become a leader in urgent care. We're committed to improving patient flow, enhancing the patient experience, and ensuring operational efficiency. This translates to better healthcare delivery for everyone in our community. 

Investing in a Brighter Digital Future

Here at Shropdoc, we're constantly striving to improve the services we offer our patients. A crucial part of that is ensuring our IT infrastructure is robust, secure, and future-proof. That's why I'm excited to update you on a major project we're undertaking – the cloud migration in partnership with EBC!

What's Happening?

In December, we received fantastic news: the board backed further investment for the second and final phase of our cloud migration project. This means we'll be:

  • Moving to the Cloud: We're migrating our servers to the cloud, significantly reducing our reliance on the server room at Longbow. This offers greater flexibility and scalability for future growth.

  • Enhancing Security: We're upgrading our data to the latest version of Microsoft Windows Server, bolstering our security posture.

  • Boosting Resilience: We're adding multiple data links that utilise different telephone exchanges and minimise the risk of any single point of failure.

The project kicks off with BT installing new data links into Shrewsbury and Oswestry. This will significantly improve our network capacity, giving our team time to prepare the network for the hardware refresh. Our servers will then be migrated to EBC's secure server room in Birmingham, utilising the latest supported software versions.

We're excited about this project and its potential to improve our services. We'll continue to keep you updated on progress as we move towards a brighter digital future for Shropdoc.

Health and Wellbeing

The health and wellbeing of our teams continue to be high on our agenda, and the Shropdoc Shufflers were back out and about last month - taking on the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail!

Members of the Shropdoc team, and their families, took on the first walk of 2024 in Llanymynech. The ‘Foot in both Camps’ walk took the Shufflers along the Montgomery Canal on March 24th.

Dr Simon Chapple said: “We headed through fields, over hills and past relics of the area’s quarrying and railway history. 

“It offered the group an opportunity to experience nature in both the Llynclys Common and the Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserves, whilst also discovering local industrial heritage courtesy of the Llanymynech Limeworks Heritage Area and the Cambrian Heritage Railway. The weather was kind to us, and it was a very enjoyable day for all.”

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