Published on: 8 March 2019

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Hello readers, welcome to my special International Women’s Day (#IWD2019) blog.

In villages, towns, cities and hospitals around the world, today marks a special day dedicated to women and provides a deserved opportunity to focus on the great success of women in all aspects of life.

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day acknowledging the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It’s been around for well over a century (the first IWD gathering was in 1911) and, if I’m honest, one day doesn’t seem enough to adequately celebrate the myriad achievements of so many women.

Here in ELHT – indeed right across the NHS - women play a vital role in our significant and diverse workforce. They are nurses, midwives, pharmacists, AHPs, doctors, managers, administrators, chaplains, domestics, caterers, volunteers, and every other equally essential role. In fact, a massive 82 per cent of our staff are women and we’re fortunate to benefit from strong, inspirational female leaders at every level of the trust. It’s not possible here to mention every single female role model, but I want to highlight the important contributions of just a few ‘ELHT women’. Our trust is led by a strong and experienced female Chairman, Professor Eileen Fairhurst MBE, a renowned academic and respected public service leader.  She has played a hugely influential role in improving the trust since her appointment in 2014.  Indeed, the importance of strong female leadership in ELHT’s ongoing development and improvement should not be underestimated – our Trust Board is 30 per cent female, much higher than the 7 per cent of female Board members in all organisations. As well as Chairman we have Mrs Trish Anderson and Ms Naseem Malik as non-executive directors, and the two Chris’s – Chris Pearson, Director of Nursing and Chris Hughes, Director of Communications and Engagement.

We have many female clinical leaders who are inspiring students, and their peers, and making ELHT a ‘go to’ organisation for a satisfying career. So, thanks to Queens Nurse Jane Pemberton, Head of Midwifery Angela O’Toole, Clinical Director for Therapies and Orthotics Tracey McGlone, and Chief of Medicine Dr Shenaz Ramtoola – just a few examples of that incredible leadership.

Our Head Of Staff Health Well Being and Engagement, Lee Barnes, and her staff are making a real difference in successfully helping our staff deal with many of the challenges they may face in an often high pressure workplace. This is evidenced in the results of the latest NHS Staff Survey which show that staff rate the Trust higher than ever for staff health and wellbeing, supportive management, staff morale, and having a safe environment against bullying harassment and violence.  Lee, and indeed I, know there’s more to do, but I’d like to place on record my thanks to Lee and her team.

Yes, ELHT women demonstrate the ability to create, nurture and transform our lives every working day.  My working life is made far more manageable by the skills of my Executive Personal Assistant, Michelle Connolly, who has worked with me since my arrival almost five years ago. Not only is she well respected by me and all her colleagues, she has loyally served the NHS in East Lancashire with distinction for many years, perhaps more than she might care to remember, but Michelle – thank you – I couldn’t do my job without you.

The occasion of International Women’s Day seems the ideal time to celebrate an improvement that will benefit women here at ELHT. I’m talking about the opening of the new Quiet Room in the Gynaecology Outpatients at Burnley General Teaching Hospital. This was a joint initiative with two of the Trust’s longest serving charity partners, to provide a Quiet Room to be used by patients following diagnosis of a gynaecological cancer. This is obviously a very distressing time and the Quiet Room will be the perfect place for patient’s to fully understand their diagnosis.

There are – and have been - so many fantastic women working in medicine and healthcare sometimes with skills that are undervalued and go unrecognised. Modern and historical, local and international we’re championing inspirational women in healthcare throughout today on our social media channels. Please join the celebration! 

It’s International Women’s Day and I want to thank all the women’s in our lives – mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues. It’s you who are making the difference in so many lives – including mine! Happy #IWD2019