This will be my last weekly blog. I join the Care Quality Commission on 30 July, leaving NHSBT next Thursday, fittingly at the end of our main Board meeting.

I have spent this week starting to say goodbye. It has also been an opportunity to see what has changed in the last four years and see the opportunities that are developing for the future.

Monday was in Newcastle. Sandra Smith and I toured the centre and saw lots of people. The donor centre team were looking forward to a full afternoon grid and I stuck my head around the door of the new Health Research Agency Offices. The HRA have an office in the centre, having moved in a few months ago when they moved out of their Jarrow office. This is a great example of the local NHSBT team looking to work collaboratively with another NHS team. The HRA people are now fully integrated with our teams, sharing the canteen and taking part in joint charity work. This, alongside the work we have done to bring in services from the university, demonstrates the long-term importance of our presence in Newcastle.

Tuesday was calls and meeting, before spending Wednesday at our monthly programme and performance meeting. We were also preparing for the Board meeting next week. The key performance challenge remains getting blood donors in and taking blood off them. As I said last week, people are registering but we aren’t necessarily able to take a donation.

Some of the things we have introduced recently such as using the contact centre to more proactively contact O negative donors are beginning to pay dividends. Changing the way we test iron levels in some donors is also showing early promise. These things are going to be scaled up. We also agreed that we need to increase our work around some of the donor centres, where there is capacity but not enough donors coming in. None of this is an easy, or single, fix, but it remains a key area to work on.

In DTS, the performance is still just ahead of plan and organ donation is doing well. The stand out for ODT is the decrease in the number of times SNODs were not in the room for the consent conversation. This has been a key factor in driving up the number of transplants.

Thursday was on the road, starting in Leeds. I toured the centre saying goodbye before going to Sheffield with Chris Sims, via Barnsley. The new centre looks fantastic. I last visited in January and stood on the edge of a muddy field. It is now mostly built, with floors and roof in place along with most of the windows. We are expecting to get the building handed over later this year, with fit out during 2019. It looks like it is going to be a really impressive place when it is finished. It was then on to the Sheffield Centre before travelling across to Manchester.

Friday started with calls and a visit to the Manchester centre. It looks like the team in Manchester have settled down after all of the work last year. I even saw the new dual bag blood presses (I know, it is something only a very small number of people will get excited about…). The Donor Centre was busy, looking forward to welcoming back the students in September.

One of the last things I am doing next week is a Director Roadshow. As last year, this is being done remotely. If you would like to join me, then please click here for more details. If you would like to ask questions beforehand, or on the day, then please use Yammer, the link is here

This is the point which my regular readers see the words “See you next week”. This week I am afraid you won’t “see me next week”. The last four years have been some of the best four years of my life. No other job has given me access to such fantastic teams of people, no other job has exposed me to the goodness of the people who live in this country, and no other job has made me laugh (and cry) so much. I will miss you all, thank you for your support.

I wish you all the best of luck for the future.


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