Leadership message from John Syson, Interim Director of Workforce

John Syson

I joined EEAST just over four months ago, at the end of February 2020. When I told my colleagues and acquaintances in the NHS in the East of England that I would be joining EEAST many of them gave me expressions of sympathy and wished me luck.

As I had more conversations I realised that many did not have a favourable impression of EEAST. The sad news of the suicides of three of our colleagues at the end of 2019, combined with a challenging CQC report had made many think of us as place where no one would want to choose to work. I joined with some considerable trepidation but was delighted to be welcomed into the Workforce Directorate with a friendliness and openness which was at odds with what I had been told to expect.

Now after four months, the start of a global pandemic and a (ongoing) CQC well led inspection I have had the opportunity to reflect on what has changed, and what has stayed the same during my time so far.

My overall impression is of an organisation which is improving in so many areas. Our performance over the last few months has been excellent with national standards for response times to C1 calls and other key metrics being consistently met. We have also made excellent progress with meeting one of the organisation’s key strategic challenges: ensuring we have sufficient staff to meet the demands on our service.

Vacancies are falling across the Trust and we have a strong pipeline of candidates entering courses throughout the rest of the year. The relationship between the Trust and our Trade Union partners in UNISON have also improved dramatically during 2020. The Trust’s response to the COVID pandemic also highlighted for me many of the things that are best about EEAST: the dedication of team members from the execs to admin assistants to ensure that patients continued to receive the best care possible, the openness to new ideas and ways of working and the collaborative spirit that recognised that everyone had an important role to play.

When I think of these achievements I can see that they have been achieved by good planning, governance and hard work but also by sticking close to the organisational values of: Care, Teamwork, Quality, Respect and Honesty. How we do things, whether that be speaking to patients, relatives or colleagues is as important as what we do.

July will also see the launch of the Trust’s corporate strategy for 2020-25, many of you will have participated in the consultation and engagement sessions that happened in 2019 to help develop the strategy. The vision, goals and values contained within it will help shape EEAST for the next five years. I recommend it to everyone in EEAST.

We have many challenges to overcome as an organisation to ensure we continue to provide excellent patient care and meet the demands on the service but also to make EEAST an exceptional place to work volunteer and learn. As an organisation and individually we have not always embodied the best of ourselves and our service. We are at our best for our patients and ourselves when we embody our values and embrace the diversity of backgrounds, talents and abilities we have across our Trust. There are an increasing number of forums available for staff who wish to contribute to making EEAST a better place to work, volunteer and learn. Local staff survey action plans have been launched recently and the Trust is looking to offer up additional opportunities for staff interested in health and wellbeing to develop their own knowledge and skills in the delivery of the Trust’s strategy in this area. There are also a number of staff networks: BAME, Disability, Multi faith, All Women EEAST who are increasingly active in making EEAST a more diverse and better place to work. If you’re interested in joining a network their details are here.


Published 16th July 2020

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