Just another week

Anthony Clarkson details another busy week involving ODT strategy, a board meeting and an appearance on BBC Breakfast to talk about World Heart Day

1 October 2019

Organ donation and transplantation, perhaps more than any other part of the NHS, is reliant upon the active support of both the public and our partners across healthcare and the third sector in order to thrive.

A key part of my role is to recognise that fact, and then work to build and foster those relationships. It is challenging, fascinating and above all enormously rewarding as it involves working in partnership with some of the remarkable people who make organ donation a UK success story.

Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020

The last week has been a prime example of how improving performance in organ donation is a multi-faceted issue. On Monday I had the pleasure to attend the Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020 Stakeholder and Oversight Group meetings in London.

These groups have been at the heart of the progress we have made under the current UK wide organ donation strategy, bringing together experts, healthcare professionals, government representatives and representatives from key charity partners and those who bring the voice of our incredible donor families and recipients into the room.

The job of both groups is to support ODT as a directorate to keep on track to deliver improving performance by helping us to determine how our strategic aims can best be implemented. The meetings are always rigorous, performance is analysed, questions asked and policy decisions considered, and that is exactly how it should be.

At the moment these groups are more important than ever as they oversee the move from the TOT2020 Strategy through the development of the next strategy. A part of the meeting was utilised to share progress with the groups and of course to seek their advice. If organ donation is to continue to succeed in the UK it is vital that group members are confident in our plans and support them. The discussions were incredibly useful and my team working on the new strategy will be ensuring all the views are included in the planning process.

Safeguarding training

Tuesday was a refresher of the safeguarding training for those of us who hold Level 4 safeguarding responsibilities. A note here to all colleagues to please ensure that any safeguarding concerns are handled and escalated appropriately, we all have a role to play in keeping each other, our patients and our donors safe.  Following the training it was a train down to London to stay over before an early start on Wednesday.

HSJ Awards

I have the honour to be the current HSJ Awards Clinical Leader of the Year. It has been a humbling experience over the past year and I have and always will consider it a reflection of the incredible work we all do saving and improving lives in organ donation and transplantation.

My tenure is gradually coming to an end, but I have been delighted to have the chance to be a judge for the award this year, and last week was the live judging for those shortlisted.

I consider keeping organ donation at the top of the NHS agenda to be a vital part of my work and being the Clinical Leader of the Year has helped in that process. My fellow judges on the panel included key NHS influencers such as Sir Bruce Keogh, making ODT a part of those conversations and showing that we are an exciting and relevant destination for the best talent in the NHS was undoubtedly a positive use of my time. The higher our reputation the better for all our patients and being a part of such events only enhances that.

NHSBT board meeting

Thursday was our board meeting, being a member of the NHSBT board is both a privilege and a responsibility where it is my role to represent ODT, NHSBT and as a nurse our patients and donors, commitments that I hold at the heart of my work.

ODT had several papers at this meeting of the board and they were all well received and given the careful and detailed consideration that should be expected.

Perhaps the biggest change from my role as Assistant Director to Director has been the shift in focus from directorate to corporate. As a director your responsibilities reach out of your own directorate and across the whole of NHSBT, this is exemplified by the need to contribute on a range of subjects at both executive and board meetings. I am happy to embrace this aspect of my role and enjoy the chance to be more involved globally, however I remain committed to leading ODT from the front and using my corporate role to share the vital work we do with colleagues across NHBST and further afield.

ODT statistics

Friday was a much-needed office day, and the day our weekly statistics are released. I was very pleased to see that these show that we are now ahead of the number of organ donors supported in the same period last year. As last year was a record one this is great news and proof that the hard work of every member of our ODT Team has been worth it. 

I took to Twitter to share the news and was pleased to see so many of our social media friends showing their support. There is no doubt that social media has permeated every area of society and organ donation and transplantation is no exception, professionals, donor families, recipients and those waiting for the call are all online and watching our work. I feel a deep obligation to share our work with them, and to listen to their stories and opinions.

I firmly believe that sharing @NHSOrganDonor, #YesIDonate and #PassItOn makes a difference and gets people talking about organ donation, I urge everyone to get involved and support the debate, lives depend on us getting that message out there.

World Heart Day

Anthony is interviewed on TV by two presentersMy weekends are usually precious time to spend with my wife Rachel and daughters, however this Sunday was World Heart Day and the opportunity to talk about the lives saved by organ donation, and those that can yet be saved, was too important to turn down.

So a 5 o’clock alarm saw me on the BBC Breakfast sofa for 6:30am. The presenters were informed and supportive as ever, and once again social media helped spread the interview and message even further.

I hope that our combined efforts across platforms and media will all have the same effect: to increase knowledge of organ donation and encourage more people to decide to be an organ donor, for all our complex work there can be no simpler or finer ambition.