A blog from Susan Blakemore, Chief Executive of Cumbria Health on Call.

24th January 2018

Firstly can I say thank you for the huge effort made over Christmas and New Year to ensure that services that CHoC provide ran smoothly, providing high quality care to our population in Cumbria.

I thought it would be pertinent and helpful to outline the highlights of 2017 as a reminder to all staff what a great year CHoC had.

  • CHoC OOH were rated ‘outstanding’, with particular emphasis on ‘responsive’ and ‘well led’.
  • APAS (Acute Patient Assessment Service) became an embedded process within our clinical triage pool which was trail-blazed by CHoC, and enables 111 calls that would normally have been sent directly to A&E to have an intervention, avoiding unnecessary attendances at A&E CHoC Solutions was launched and ran a very successful evening outlining both opportunities and training programmes on offer.
  • Both clinical and non-clinical recruitment continued with particular emphasis on tier 2 sponsorship and recruiting clinicians from outside of Cumbria.
  • CHoC were awarded the contract to run South Cumbria Extended Access over a two year period, which will enable delivery of 100 hours of primary care across South Cumbria from the following locations: Kendal, Grange, Barrow and Ambleside.
  • CHoC employed two apprentices, Georgia Graham (Administration Apprentice) and Will Balderstone (IT Apprentice), both have settled in extremely well and are a real asset to the team.
  • Glenridding Health Centre were awarded an ‘outstanding’ CQC rating, with particular emphasis on ‘caring’, ‘responsive’ and ‘well led’.
  • CHoC were finalists in the category of ‘Best Social Enterprise’ at the CN Awards and were runner up in the category.
  • Advancements were made around technology enabled care linking the CHoC clinical team to care homes and pharmacies.
  • High quality rota management continued throughout the whole year which we all appreciate can be a difficult job.
  • The following Nurse Practitioners were RCN credentialed: Davina Collins, Anne Hartley, Sheila Richardson and Gill Hewitson.  This recognises their advanced nursing practice.
  • Dr Neil Margerison, Medical Director, was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
  • CHoC became a member of the Carlisle Ambassadors.

This list is not exhaustive but does give a flavour of the huge contribution from all groups of staff to ensure that CHoC continues to be a highly performing organisation going into 2018.

CHoC are keen to get behind this campaign, and I attended the visit by Chris Pointon, who’s wife, Dr Kate Grainger MBE, co-founded the Hello My Name Is… campaign in 2013.  Kate noticed clinical staff rarely introduced themselves to her by name during her time as a patient and made huge efforts to raise awareness of the importance of taking time to introduce yourself to patients.  Sadly Kate Grainger passed away in 2016 but Chris has continued their work through the campaign.

I heard Chris speak at West Cumberland Hospital on Wednesday 17th January and I included the link to two videos that were produced by Chris and Kate that I believe are both poignant and helpful for all staff, to ensure that we all always make the effort to introduce ourselves, particularly to patients and in some cases especially during their time of greatest need.

Hello My Name is 1

Hello My Name Is 2

As you are all aware we have entered flu season with huge demands being put on services across Cumbria.  CHoC have published all the relevant guidance on the CHoC website with clear protocols about how flu is to be managed.

Over the weekend period the clinical coordinators and pharmacists will help coordinate this process should medication need to be given for either symptomatic or prophylactic use.

Thank you all again for all your efforts in managing the impact that this is currently having on the CHoC service.

I would remind all staff about the Social Enterprise Committee, which comprises of Suzy Fitton, Zoe Heaven, Martin Shuttleworth and Dr Kathryn McCroy.  More information can be found here: https://www.chocltd.co.uk/staff/social-enterprise-committee/  including the form you can fill in to apply for funding.  I would encourage you all to consider requesting funding for a cause or charity from the Social Enterprise Committee.

18th December 2017

I am delighted that our General Practice in Glenridding has been awarded an outstanding rating by the CQC.  Glenridding Health Centre received three ‘Outstanding’s’ (Well-Led, Caring, Responsive) and two ‘Good’s’ (Safe and Effective).

The regulators praised the way Glenridding Health Centre meets the needs of a rural population with a strong person-centred culture and a highly motivated staff group who treat their patients with compassion, dignity and respect, involving them in their care and decisions about their treatment.  The practice was also praised for its clear leadership structure, and together with Cumbria Health on Call had an inspiring shared purpose.

The practice was the only one of 40 practices in the Clinical Commissioning Group area to achieve 100% for patient satisfaction with reception staff, while patients rated them the joint highest in the county for overall satisfaction and confidence in the nursing team and joint second highest in the GP’s.

Hannah Mason was interviewed on BBC Radio Cumbria and you can listen to the interview here:

Hannah Masons Interview

This is a real accolade to the hard work and dedication to the staff involved in this fantastic result.  A huge well done to everyone!

Recruitment continues to be positive and new doctors have been recruited under the tier 2 sponsorship scheme, with one doctor commencing employment in December.  A GP who was also recruited from the 2016 RGCP event commences employment with CHoC in January 2018.

CHoC are delighted to have secured a 100 hour contract for delivery extended access across south Cumbria, to be fully implemented with the new model by March 2018.  This services offers a range of appointments across Health Care Assistants, GPs and Chronic Disease Management ran by Nurse Practitioners.  GP Practices will be able to book directly into EMIS slots from their practices, where the range of professionals will undertake consultations at four locations: Kendal, Barrow, Grange and Ambleside.  This is an exciting opportunity for the CHoC team to be involved in delivering general practice at scale across the 8-8 7 day period, in line with the GP Five Year Forward View.

This is excellent news that it is being delivered locally here in Cumbria by an out of hours social enterprise organisation.

Some of you may be aware that Neil received a Fellowship from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) on Friday, this is the RCGP’s ultimate honour and achievement for GPs who have made a significant contribution to general practice, and it is a huge tribute to Neil’s dedication to general practice.  I’m sure you’ll all join in our congratulations to Neil!

As you are all aware the service is becoming busier, the cars are currently out frequently undertaking visits in sometimes difficult geographical locations, especially as the temperature has plummeted below zero degrees in the past week or so.  CHoC demonstrate a number of avoidance schemes that assist both NWAS and the Acute Trust in ensuring that patients are diverted from A&E where appropriate.  This work can never be underestimated, and gives a huge benefit to the system as a whole.

BBC Radio Cumbria ran a series of features regarding NHS pressures, and I spoke about CHoC and the ongoing work that it undertakes to ensure that primary care is managed for two thirds of the patient’s week.  I explained that continuing care is a large part of this role, ensuring that patients who are house bound and who have chronic disease problems, and who are palliative receive continuity of care at vulnerable times in their lives across an extensive period of time.  You can listen to the interview here:


As we approach the Christmas and New Year shut down in which we are operating over seven days, I am confident in the ability of our teams to continue delivery the range of services that we do over this prolonged and difficult period.  The support given to both our A&E and ambulance colleagues can never be underestimated as CHoC provide extensive support in ensuring that patient’s are diverted from the front doors of the hospital in line with our vision is of the right patient in front of the right clinician at the right time.

Please do let me know any areas of excellent practice that you would like me to share in this regular blog.