End of year reflections and festive greetings

19th December 2022

Nine months in to our Digital Pioneers programme, our Programme Manager, Rachael Forbister reflects on the achievements to date, and discusses an exciting year ahead.

The Digital Pioneers programme aims to drive the development of digital within primary care, to provide better access to services and improve healthcare for patients.

Christmas and the end of the year are often a time when people reflect on the last 12 months and think about the new year and all that it brings.  A time when we come together to remember what’s important to us and connect with our loved ones.  It can also be a challenging time for some, and a time of reflection when setting out new year’s resolutions (and hopefully achieve them!)

And what a year we have had supporting the delivery of this amazing programme of work across primary care in North East and North Cumbria.

I’ve had the greatest pleasure in joining the AHSN NENC 15 months ago, working with a great group of talented people all working towards improving the health of our population across the North East and North Cumbria.  And working together with our partners in the system to support this and aligning our strategies to deliver real outcomes.

I began planning for the Digital pioneers programme in December 2021 and was lucky enough that the wonderful Emma Richardson joined me in March 2022 to bring together the two mains streams of activity.  Our ambition is to:

‘Facilitate collaboration, exchange ideas and support the scale and spread of digital health innovations within primary care, to improve the quality of care to patients and support the workforce to deliver better healthcare for all.’

Since then, we’ve delivered a programme of activity and already have plans in place for the coming year.  Highlights have included:

  • 8 cohorts of Digital Champions creating 48 champions, working across primary care to embrace digital change.
  • Several events including 3 masterclasses, 2 showcase events in Pharmacy and General Practice, and established lunch and learn sessions.
  • 8 innovations registered across primary care, with a further 4 in development and more in the pipeline.
  • Putting our new Yohlar training into practice running a ‘Rapid Design Workshop’ for one of our Primary Care Networks (more information on this coming in the new year!)

I’m excited about the new year and all that it will bring, with our main objectives to:

  • Grow our Digital Champions group to spread and adopt wider across primary care.
  • Continue to reach out to other parts of the system to encourage them to not only innovate but access the free education programme. I’m excited to see the new ideas and innovations that come through that can make a difference.
  • Embed and sustain change and help the system with some of the challenges they have.
  • Bring new ideas and pathways to life; seeing how new technologies deliver real outcomes.

Emma and myself are supported by Emma Wharfe who develops and delivers the communications strategy which has been key to the success of the programme.  Leanne Maitland, our Project Support Officer, assists the team in the background and ensures champions and innovators have an access route. Our Director, Dave Belshaw, keeps us focused and on track and always has amazing ideas as well as creating the right connections.  We wouldn’t be where we are without our commissioners, in particular Vic Grainger, who has supported us throughout the programme. Redmoor Health are our delivery partner for Digital Champions and part our team. And finally, we are supported by the amazing 48 digital champions and our inspiring innovators. Together, we can make a difference and support the workforce to deliver better healthcare.

Our first nine months have been great and looking back we’ve achieved a great deal. We often get told that its phenomenal the amount of things that we do and deliver but when you love what you do and want to make a difference it doesn’t feel like that and feels like the right thing to do.

And in the words of buddy the elf – I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite.

Wishing you all a wonderful festive time and a healthy and happy New Year.