The 88th AGM of the Robinson Hospital Board of Trustees took place in the Ballymoney Health Centre in June.
David Robinson, President of the Robinson Hospital Trust welcomed members and guests Jennifer Welsh (Deputy Chief Executive of the Northern Health and Social Services Trust) and Owen Harkin (Director of Finance to the NHSCT).
The President then asked the Honorary Secretary of the Robinson Trust Board (Dr John Johnston) to deliver his Annual Report.
The Honorary Secretary began his report with a note of sadness on the death, exactly one year earlier, of Mr Alex Blair of Lisboy, Kilraughts. Mr Blair had been a long standing member of the Robinson Association and had published, in his book “One Man’s Gift in 1999, the definitive record of the history of the Robinson Hospital and its founder Samuel Robinson of Culcrum and Philadelphia, USA. Reference was then made to Alex Blair’s huge contribution to many spheres of teaching and lecturing, to the recording of so much local history, to drama and to the local farming community at the Annual Agricultural Show, to his Church at Kilraughts, to the Probus Club and as an after dinner speaker. He had been a great and true friend to so many in the local community and further afield.
Dr Johnston reflected on the activities of the Robinson Trust Board during the past year. The Board meets every three months. The Working Party and the Finance Group meet more frequently as required. The Board’s present aspiration to improve facilities within the Hospital for the patients remained absolute – in particular for the provision of en-suite facilities for every single room. Ongoing discussions about provision of facilities for Palliative Care patients continued to be a priority with the Board.
The President, David Robinson, has had frequent discussions with members of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) and there was a good and open relationship between the two Trusts. The Honorary Secretary referred to the new “Frailty” project taking place since October 2018 in the Robinson Hospital led by Sister Mary O’Boyle with Justin O’Neill (Trainee Advanced Nurse Practitioner) and Pharmacist, Helen Graham. The project is supported by the Public Health Agency and the Robinson Board of Trustees and this fascinating project is still ongoing.
The Honorary Secretary then referred to the reports from the different disciplines operating on the Robinson Hospital site. These reports will be given in full with the fully publicised report of the AGM later in the year. He did refer, in part, to the report by Mrs Jackie Elliott (Community Locality Manager) about activity through the year within the Robinson Hospital including the bed occupancy of 90% and average length of stay of 26 days. The figure of 56% of patients who were able to be discharged to their own homes indicated good effective rehabilitation during their stay as in-patients.
Reference was made to the “moving on” of Mrs Pamela Craig as Assistant Director and Divisional Lead Nurse – Pamela has moved to another post in the NHSCT and her place in her past post has been taken up by Sonya Doherty. The Robinson Community Hub continues to thrive with its important link with the community and voluntary partners. There has been significant new recurrent funding this year enabling an increase in nurse to bed ratios.
A report from Dr David Johnston, concerning the work in Ballymoney Health Centre, showed further rise in the patient population of the Centre to 18,016 between the two Practices, a rise of 166 people in the last 12 months. Reference was made to the retirement during the year of Nurse Rosemary Dunlop (after 29 years in Dr Fannin’s Practice) and more recently to the retirement of Sister Helen Cochrane from the Treatment Room after 30 years.
Both these nurses brought so much skill and compassion together with their leadership skills to so many patients over the years. Reference was made to the development of the aspirations of the white paper “Transforming your Care”. Clinics for minor surgery are now developed in the General Practice scenario allowing movement of patients from secondary care to primary care for treatment, thereby reducing pressure on hospital waiting lists.
The Hospital Diversion Team moved into new modern facilities within the Robinson Hospital in 2017 which were built and equipped with the aid of a generous legacy left to the Robinson Trust from the late Dr’s Wilbur and Margaret Temple. The Diversion Team is led by Sister Catherine Skeet and in the last 12 months they have dealt with 1,079 referrals of which about 50% required blood transfusions. All the staff are now trained in inserting and overseeing long line cannulae, which can remain in situ for 28 days.
The Honorary Secretary referred to the many generous donations made by so many individuals and groups over the past year and how much the Robinson Board appreciated those donations and the Board Members want to assure those wonderful people how those monies will be used for the benefit of the patients. In addition reference was made to the Award recently awarded to the Macmillan Specialist Care Nurse, Terry McVeigh. He is based in the Causeway Hospital but has helped often with patients in the Robinson with palliative care needs – the Award was
from The Royal College of Nursing for the prestigious “Patient’s Choice Award”.
The Adult Mental Health Team is under the new leadership of Jane Reynolds and the Board was delighted to hear that the Adult Mental Health Team has achieved accreditation for Community Mental Health from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The Physiotherapy Department is now one of the longest standing units supported within the Robinson Hospital and continues to provide a wide range of treatments including the much valued hydrotherapy pool. The Podiatry Unit, under the leadership of Henry McKinney and the report from the Child Development Unit by Dr Heather Jack show the amazing variety of treatments provided within these units and their full reports together with the reports from all the other Units will be published in the full “paper” report from the AGM to be printed later this year.
The Honorary Secretary referred to the work of Dr Fannin, as Macmillan Advisor to the Robinson Hospital, and her additional role as mentor to Justin O’Neill, the trainee advanced Nurse Practitioner. He also thanked the GPs with special responsibility for the day to day medical cover for the Robinson Hospital without whose loyal support and expertise the patients could not be admitted to the facility. He also thanked Rosemary Lyttle for her unfailing support as Secretary to the Robinson Board.
Finally the Honorary Secretary referred to the wonderful service of a particular member of the Nursing Service within the Robinson Hospital who had recently resigned after 43 years of unfailing care for the patients there. This was Mrs Eleanor Coulter who had joined the nursing staff on leaving school. Just last year she was nominated for the UK’s award for Health and Care at the Manchester Conference Centre. Indeed she was awarded seventh place in a selected group of 70 people widely selected throughout the UK. The Robinson Board and the NHSCT were
extremely proud of the recognition of Eleanor’s achievement and incidentally she was placed ahead of Tony Blair in that List. She truly underlines the hopes and ideals of the Founder of the Robinson Hospital, Mr Samuel Robinson. Yet she has not retired and will continue to share her compassion and care in the Roddens Care Unit nearby.
In recognition of Eleanor’s work she was presented at the end of the AGM with a bouquet of flowers by Margaret Allison (Vice President). That marked the end of the Honorary Secretary’s report which was then responded to by the deputy Chief Executive of the NHSCT, Mrs Jennifer Welsh.
The Treasurer, Henry Algeo, reported on 2018 financial results. He opened his report with a summary of the income generated by the Trust’s investments, which last year produced £110,000 after expenses, to pass to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. The Trustees already retain £120,000 from 2017. Meanwhile, the NHSCT already holds £1.25 million ready to use on developments at the Robinson Hospital so that the total funds available are approximately £1.5 million.
The value of “restricted” investments held by the Trustees finished the year at £3.5million. In addition to these investments the Trustees hold almost £1.5million of “unrestricted” investments donated by various generous benefactors. This year these holdings were boosted by the addition of two significant funds. The Gault Trust, which had been run by Mr John and Mrs Sue Pinkerton as Trustees, became redundant and was generously donated to Robinson Hospital funds. The late Genevieve Robinson, a niece of the original donor, also left a substantial legacy to “unrestricted” funds. These funds now stand at over £1 million and will produce an income of approximately £50,000 per annum in years to come.
The Treasurer expressed his gratitude to his predecessor, Connor Taggart, for his assistance in putting together the accounts and to Margaret Wallace and John Hamilton of D T Carson & Company for their work in creating the formal reports for Companies House and for the Charity Commission. The Treasurer’s Report was responded to by Owen Harkin, Director of Finance NHSCT.