Season 2, episode 20

Voices of Care – S2E20 – Michelle Gorringe

15 May 2024

Michelle Gorringe, co-founder of Newcross Healthcare and its first Chief Ethics Officer discusses her new role and her nursing journey.

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Episode chapters

00:00 Introduction

00:33 Newcross Healthcare

03:53 The Role of Chief Ethical Officer

08:27 Michelle’s Nursing Journey and Background

14:06 Milestones in Newcross Healthcare’s Journey

17:07 FuturU and its Free Healthcare Education Initiative

20:40 Supporting Wellbeing of Healthcare Staff

23:19 Compliance and Safety in Patient Care

29:34 Highlighting the Positives of Nursing and Social Care

36:31 Outro

[00:00:00] Hello, I’m Suhail Mirza and welcome to this, the final episode in season two of Voices of Care. I’m delighted and honoured to welcome and be joined today by Michelle Gorringe, co-founder of Newcross Healthcare and its first Chief Ethical Officer. Michelle, thank you so much for making time to join us today.

[00:00:20] Thank you for inviting me, Suhail.

[00:00:22] It’s a pleasure and busy time for Newcross at the moment. Lots in the specialist press and stuff, Scotland, etc. tell us a little bit about it. It must feel like a whirlwind sometimes.

[00:00:33] It does. I think it’s always been the same though for 28 years. I must be honest. Gosh, where do I start? So we’ve done a lot of restructure within the internal part of the business. So we have created across the entire country, specialist lines. So therefore, if you are operating within the children’s services, you are a specialist within that sector. We’ve also we’ve separated the customer journey from the staff journey. The workforce journey. We thought that was really important again. So we’ve got people absolutely dedicated to our workforce and people absolutely dedicated to our very valuable customers. So that’s been a big adjustment. Lots of moving parts. But people have embraced this change and they can see how it’s really benefiting the quality of our service to both our customer and also our workforce. We’ve also completely restructured our quality compliance team. And that’s to make it even more impactful. It’s so very important that we get it right the first time. Specifically from a compliance point of view, from an ethical point of view to make sure that we are addressing the challenges that sometimes our workforce encounter in a very holistic way, but also to ensure that we are constantly striving to increase the standards within the business on how we operate, how we deliver the services that we do deliver.

[00:02:20] So the restructure is something that I’m really delighted with, and I’m sure that our customers will see the benefits of that. We’ve got a wide range of nursing skills within the team, from paediatrics to mental health nurses, LD nurses, adult general, acute nurses as well to support us with our NHS ventures. So the NHS, yes, a big part of the changes in Newcross. We’re on the framework, several frameworks now that we are absolutely delighted with. And as we all know, compliance starts at the very beginning, specifically with the NHS. And to make sure that we are operating the framework standards and that, you know, that the teams that we’re putting into the NHS are absolutely the right skills for the right placement. So that again, has been a big step for us.

[00:03:19] I guess really moving on from that, because the market social care, NHS, private acute, the demands of clients are that we have specialist advisors, trusted advisors, which is where really you’re talking about and this now the whole idea of compliance, clinical standards I guess neatly takes us to this appointment. And congratulations on the appointment as Chief Ethical officer. It’s a very distinctive role in the market. Can you give us a bit more of a broad background around the thinking behind this, because you’ve touched upon the importance of those standards?

[00:03:53] Yeah, it really is. And when I was looking to create the role, it was very, very important that we looked at the wide range of sort of services that we offer. But also to make sure that the ethics starts at the very beginning. So the ethical journey starts with the way that we build our software. We very much moved towards platform, which has been an amazing journey for us. But it’s making sure that our software, yes, the coding is there that, that our really super bright guys are creating products that work and deliver what the customer needs, what the workforce needs. But it’s also making sure that the programs that we’re operating to are absolutely about getting the right nurse, the right carer at the right place at the right time. And that’s around training. It’s around compliance. It’s also around ethical decisions and moral decisions as well. So I’m super excited about becoming even more involved in our technical journey. It’s also looking at increasing the standards, improving the standards across our entire business. We’ve had great success in the community, great success, where we’ve been very able to deliver solutions to people that have very complex needs, both clinically and with their mental health. And we’ve got some amazing successes within this field. And of course, as we embark along the journey of having even more complicated clinical requirements, then ethics is very much baked into that.

[00:05:52] And that’s become a hallmark of social care in particular. And community based care. I mean, not that long ago. I’m not saying it was simple, but it was far less complex. Now the needs, dementia care, etc. are becoming far more complex, and I guess this is where your role will be vital, not just in terms of protecting the people who use the services, but also supporting the workforce that are delivering it.

[00:06:18] Yeah, it’s across the whole range. And, you know, if I kind of reflect back, 28 years ago and we started Newcross, it was very different then. It was very different then. We operated in the community 27 years ago. That’s when we first became registered and able to provide community services. But what we were commissioned for then, it’s just poles apart. You can’t even compare to what we are commissioned for now. And the way that we’ve evolved over the years, we’ve evolved our infrastructure, our technology, our processes, our policies, our training, our education, our support infrastructure. We’ve now got an expansive team of nurses across the entire UK that cover again all the required paediatrics, mental health, etc. to support every single day the services in the community. I couldn’t be more proud of them because we really do change people’s lives for the better and support families. Again, reflecting back 28 years ago and you would have said to me, okay, Michelle, you would be taking care of a service user in the community with X with Y. And I’ve said, no way.

[00:07:43] And now we do it on a regular basis.

[00:07:45] On a regular basis.

[00:07:46] Now, you’ve gone back 28 years. I’m going to, with some trepidation, turn the clock back slightly further than that, if I may. You talked about the nursing workforce that Newcross has to meet the complex demands in the community, and we’re seeing more and more of that now. And we’ve seen there’s now a chief nurse appointed for the first time for social care as an example, which is really long overdue. But I want to focus on that nursing clinician aspect of your journey, as well as a business individual and as a leader, you are first and foremost a clinician, a nurse. And you entered that profession when it was a very different world for very personal reasons.

[00:08:27] It certainly was a very different world. Gosh, Suhail. Okay, thank you. So I embarked on my nursing journey almost 40 years ago. I know you find that hard.

[00:08:41] I do, I do.

[00:08:43] But it is almost 40 years ago, but actually, I had a family event that really propelled me in that direction. And my grandfather, I was 14 years old and my grandfather, who I absolutely love dearly and I still miss him today. And he was really sick. He was being cared for at home. He had terminal cancer both in the lung and also prostate. So he had to have a catheter. He was very poorly, but he wanted to remain at home. And in those days the support structure in people’s homes to remain at home was literally negligible. Your GP was very active. They came in almost every day and some district nursing services, but other than that, it was family. And my auntie, my Auntie Linda, I’d qualified as a nurse and I remember the specific day that that my grandfather was very distressed. I’d come home from school. I went every day from school, and I was sat chatting away about probably nothing.

[00:10:01] And my grandfather was in distress. He was in pain, and his catheter had blocked, which is horrendous pain. It’s horrendous pain. My grandma would have phoned for the GP and they were they were coming, but they were taking their time. They were on their rounds and my Auntie Linda came in from work and I just remember her coming in and just absolutely taking over with, with great calm, even though it was her father, helping to unblock his catheter and make him comfortable. And his distress just went, it just left his face. And at the same time, she was directing my grandma to go and make tea. You make tea in Yorkshire when things are happening, to the kitchen to literally get my grandma out of the way, because she was also very distressed and just the way that she just controlled the situation just really blew me away as a 14 year old. And I thought, okay, I want to do this. I want to educate, I want to go into a career where I can really alleviate distress like this, help families and really make a difference. So I did.

[00:11:16] And there you are. And the entree into nursing again was very different because in order to make ends meet, it was a different world in terms of how you trained.

[00:11:26] It really was. So I’m very proud that I come from an extremely working class background. My father was a miner. And then steelworks. My grandfather was mining and steelworks. That’s what our family did. And so for me to go into education, it wasn’t an option. You effectively left school and you found a job. I was very fortunate to go to college when I left school. But I did a lot of funding myself to get me through college. Lots of babysitting. I worked in a shoe shop, which I didn’t like that much. And then, of course, for me, nursing, we were paid. So we were paid a very frugal wage. It was £0.96 an hour, and it didn’t go very far. We could also live in the nurses homes. So that was great for me so that I got my independence, really low rent. But I also live with my fellow student nurses. So we built a really great community. And I think that’s what nursing does. You build a fantastic community with your co-student nurses. And then when you become a qualified nurse, your qualified nursing team. But in those days, it was very much six week school, ward placements, six week school education, ward placements. So very hands on, which I absolutely, I just loved it. I just loved it. I just loved being with people and making that difference, making someone smile when they were having a really not such a great day. The art of conversation. You learn the art of conversation, being able to converse with every age group, every nationality and to try to find something positive about a day, but also to be very honest, very truthful. If something is going to be uncomfortable, it is.

[00:13:33] And that sense of community, I think the idea of making a difference was probably one of the drivers in creating Newcross in the first place, and there’s so much to cover, but we’ve got so little time. The 28 year journey is extraordinary. Are there 2 or 3 things that perhaps stand out as markers for you, that are great milestones in terms of business? I know you want to talk about FuturU and some of the things you’ve done, but it’ll just be fascinating to know how you brought that sense of community and desire to make a difference and what you’re most proud of over the last 28 years.

[00:14:06] Gosh, that’s a that’s a question and a half, really, isn’t it? There’s so many. There are so many. So I kind of feel if I missed some out, it’s kind of undeserving really of what we’ve achieved with Newcross. It’s always going to be of course, you know, when you start a business, it’s when you see it actually work. So I remember booking out the first shift as though it was yesterday, and that was at a care home, Springfield Care Home in Torquay, which has closed, sadly closed many years ago. And that was with the most wonderful health care worker, Phyllis Tozer, and she went to work as a health care worker that night on that first night shift. And that was like a eureka moment. My goodness, this works, this works. So that was really great. I think then it was making so we created the concept and launched in Torquay. And the concept was very much about making that difference. I ran care homes and received staff and had first hand experience where health care staff and nurses had come to the home and they just weren’t suitable, whether it was by the fact their experiences or their personalities didn’t fit, quite honestly and it caused chaos in the care homes, but also sometimes they were unreliable as well.

[00:15:33] So that was a concept behind Newcross, is it would always be about the right nurse, the right carer at the right placement at the right time. That was very much our concept from 28 years ago. So to launch in Torquay to see that working was fantastic. But also then to say, okay, this is a great business that we’ve created in Torquay, but we’ve got the rest of the country. So it was then creating the processes and creating the model to expand into other areas, into other parts of the UK, for instance, like Scotland, where the compliance, the registration was very different and still is. Then into Wales and to grow. So they were huge milestones for us just quite simply organically opening locations across the country, making sure the quality was still there, that the ethos was there, that the customer service was something, that was and still is something that we really pride ourselves on because we know health care.

[00:16:40] Absolutely. And the passion that comes through. One other thing I wanted to highlight was going back to the training element. You made a commitment based on your own experience about supporting this country’s need to train healthcare workers and nurses, and to do it for free. So I think that was launched some time ago. FuturU has come out of that and just wanted to touch upon that, because that’s made a big difference to become an award winning business since its inception.

[00:17:07] Yeah, absolutely. So as you say, Suhail, the concept of FuturU is free health care education for everyone. So not just for Newcross staff, but for everyone. So we brought free education into Newcross many, many years ago. We didn’t think it was the ethical thing to do was to charge nurses and healthcare staff to improve their skills. And I’m always astounded by how thirsty nurses and healthcare staff are for education to improve their skills, just to grow and to evolve. And I find it quite incredible. And a lot of our nurses and healthcare staff, they of course, they educate in their own time around families and around their commitments. So we saw the success of this and thousands and thousands of courses taken every year. And we thought, okay, the healthcare sector has been really good to us. Myself and Stephen, when we launched Newcross, we want to give something back. We want to give something back. So we want to create a vehicle whereby it doesn’t matter who you are employed by or even if you’re not employed in health care, but you want to start to investigate how to enter into health care and start to learn, that education would be free. So that is FuturU. That is FuturU. And we’re really proud of FuturU and what we’ve achieved in under a year. Under a year, over 70,000 learners. And we’re expanding our course content every single week. But we’re super excited, and you know that I’m really excited about this, about the new adult care certificate, the level two qualification. I am absolutely thrilled that the government have put some money behind this. A substantial amount, I believe it’s £52.9 million to educate 37,000 health care staff within 12 months starting from June. Not a small undertaking, but I’m just so thankful for this opportunity to recognise healthcare staff as qualified individuals because they really are.

[00:19:46] And we need it in our nation. I think the stats showed we need 480,000 more workers in social care. And also this will hopefully attract people as a career progression. So it’ll be interesting to see where the journey goes with FuturU. I’m sure you’ll come back to talk to us about that. One other thing on the milestone, which I know again goes back to your own passion for making a difference and contributing. We’ve had the pandemic, the restrictions have now gone. There’s been a huge mental health impact post pandemic. And today all the stats show, NHS staff surveys 30% plus with stress and burnout. And I know as a clinician, there was one thing that you and the board decided that actually they want to support the wellbeing of NHS workers and social care workers, and you’ve instigated a whole programme of free webinars across the entire UK for NHS and social care staff.

[00:20:40] Yeah, we did, we did. I think I probably don’t give it justice. However I describe the pandemic of mental health challenges that we have. It’s heartbreaking. It really is. And I know I’ve said this before to people that I have conversations with around wellbeing, is if we don’t take care of our nurses, of our health care staff, of our medical teams, how on earth can we expect them to take care of each and every one of us? So therefore, to commit to the program of wellness webinars and support in some respects was for us a no brainer. We felt that we had to do something that we wanted to do something to support this most valuable workforce. It does make me extremely sad. It really, really does. And I’m not seeing at the moment that it’s shifting in the right direction. So I think there needs to be a lot more. And that’s where we need support. We need government funding. We need recognition that this trusted workforce needs help.

[00:22:04] Well I think for Newcross to be able to offer that for free across the UK is a step, but hopefully as part of the advocacy so that the government, which did start withdrawing nationally the funding for wellbeing hubs, which I think was one of the instigators in delivering this, but I’m delighted to say and congratulate Newcross because that work has actually resulted in a nomination by an MP for the NHS Parliamentary Awards. We’ll see what the result of that will be, but you must be very proud of the fact that actually this effort has been recognised.

[00:22:37] I’m very proud that it’s been recognised. And of course, that wasn’t why we did this. But recognition with an award raises the profile of the challenges that the workforce are under. So anything helps.

[00:22:55] In terms of raising the profile of workforce and the people who use the services. I want to go back to the chief ethical officer role, because it is not just about clinical trials. They’re really important in terms of risk, but it’s that compliance piece that makes sure that actually there’s safety for people who are involved in all the services that Newcross provide.

[00:23:19] Absolutely, Suhail. And we are in a very trusted position. So, our customers trust us. They trust us that when they are receiving our nurses, our health care staff, that they are absolutely suitable for the environment that they’re being placed in. And our workforce, they also trust us the same. No one wants to be placed in an environment where you don’t have the skills, where you feel very uncomfortable because you’re finding the environment is way out of your comfort zone. So that’s something that is so important that we get it right. And as we are expanding into new lines of business where the challenges are greater. The stakes are higher if you are placing individuals in those incorrect placements, then my role is more important than ever. So part of my role is around the quality and compliance of our existing customer base. But it’s also about looking at new opportunities and creating and curating the customer journey in advance and the workforce journey in advance with regards to their compliance and the training they require, but also the competencies. It’s not just about education, it’s about competency and ability to practice so that we are embarking with new relationships, new partnerships in a really safe and compliant way. Okay, very important, super important.

[00:25:04] And it’s important because as a partner now to the NHS and to social care, sometimes third party partners and private sector partners can come to be maligned. But I guess this is also part of the role to show actually, we take these standards really seriously and your role in fact, it’s across the whole industry, a whole company to make sure every aspect of the work that’s done, from onboarding to marketing to communications, has that golden thread of ethical priorities running through it.

[00:25:36] Absolutely, absolutely. It’s every touchpoint. It’s every touchpoint. Every touchpoint is super important. That again that we get this right on this journey. And when organisations don’t get it right, the impact ultimately is on an individual, on patients, patient care, and care standards. And that’s been something that I have been absolutely passionate about since I embarked on my career, again all those years ago or almost 40 years ago, is about raising patient standards, about raising experiences, and to make sure that people receive the care that they absolutely duly deserve. And you spoke earlier, memories and about milestones are a member of a huge lesson learned in my nurse education. And we were given an option at the at the end of year three to choose where we would like to be placed, something very different to what we’d already experienced in our nurse education. So in those days, we did the midwifery or the psychiatry. We covered a whole range of areas. And I requested because I trained in Rotherham and I requested that I would like to go into the mines.

[00:27:06] A family connection there as well.

[00:27:07] A family connection, yes. But it was also about we’d had a number of experiences where of course we were very close to the colliery and we would take, the miners would come into us through A&E when they’d been in incidents in the mines. And I always remember that it caused a lot of chaos when they came in, because of course they were in a lot of pain. They were wearing working clothing, there was lots of coal dust everywhere. And I do remember some of the sisters being really anxious that their lovely A&E area was becoming really covered in coal dust, etc. so I wanted to experience that. So I went with some fellow student nurses, supervised, of course, into the mines, and I was absolutely astounded by the conditions. They were really not so great, but also how long it took. If someone was injured, say they’d broken a leg, how long it took for them to get out of the mines, and actually to the hospital. It was hours. They had pethidine, but that was about it. So understanding that that journey made me so understanding then of when people get particularly when they’ve been in incidents like this, they get into A&E, how they’re presenting, how we then need to adjust. And that was a big lesson. I’ve taken that all the way through my career as a nurses to really understand the journey for an individual from the beginning, and if you understand that, then your approach, your treatment is very different. If you understand that.

[00:28:53] I think that will run through all you do in that. And I wanted to finish this great conversation with that theme of a journey. We’re at the end of a journey at season two of Voices of Care, and I think it’s apposite to just step back a bit and get your view. The board at Newcross 18 months ago, with a blank piece of paper through its passion, decided that actually we needed to inform discussion about health and social care. And it’s been a journey for Voices of Care. I just wanted to get your view of it all. I’ve been proud to be a part of that throughout it, but I don’t think any of us imagined what would happen.

[00:29:34] No we didn’t, we didn’t. It was a bit of a punt, really, wasn’t it? We knew that we needed to create a vehicle to hear people in social care. So leaders in social care. Luminaries in social care. And just to understand more about the sector outside of Newcross as well. So it’s been an education piece for us, but we’ve been absolutely blown away by just the sheer quality, and the seniority of the individuals that really want to come and talk about health care, about NHS, about social care, and not just talk about social care and health care, but to impart their wisdom, how they feel, how passionate they are. It’s quite incredible if we have got the sheer number of leaders that we appear to have in social care that are so passionate as we are, we’ve got such a positive future.

[00:30:52] And I think that’s a powerful message, because if you watch the mainstream media, NHS, social care, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that it’s relentlessly negative. And as you say, we’ve had Sir David Nicholson, Sir Jim Mackey, Julian Hartley from the NHS, everybody from social care, Martin Green, Jane Townsend, but also the regulators, the Care Inspectorate and the CQC. I think the goal was to make sure we gave everybody a voice.

[00:31:14] Yeah, and we’ve certainly done that. We’ve certainly done that. And as you say, the negativity is relentless. It’s absolutely relentless. And we need to be relentless in talking about the joys of healthcare. You know, I’ve got my colleagues that I trained with all those years ago, are still actively working as nurses in the NHS. And they love it. They love it. They could have retired at 55, giving away my age a bit there, Suhail, but they chose not to. Many of them have chosen not to. So their dedication is incredible. And from Voices of Care, if we can just create positivity, if we can by the nature of what we’re discussing, by the passion that we are all showing for what we do, if we can just attract people, young people into this sector to see social care, it’s a career. There’s such a positive pathway and a journey ahead for young people coming into to social care, there are no ceilings. And it’s so diverse.

[00:32:39] It is. And I think that was a point made. As you know, we had Andrea Sutcliffe, CEO of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, talking about the fact that actually nursing is not just an NHS endeavour. It’s a pathway within social care that needs to be celebrated. And I think the move now is we’re episode 40 plus here at the end of season two. And we’ve actually had, I think, leaders recommending other leaders to join. And for season three, I think the goal is now to expand Voices of Care to cover not just workforce issues, but the whole of health and social care and the challenges and transformation that it’s going under.

[00:33:15] Yeah, absolutely. So I’m really excited to see Andrea’s particularly as she does talk about nurses in social care. And I think that’s something that has not been spoken about enough. It’s a career of choice, moving into social care as a nurse. And at one point in time it would have been seen as the graveyard of your career. But it’s really not if we just reflect on the service users that are taken care of in social care now. The complexities, then you have to be at the top of your game. You really do. So I think I’m really looking forward to hearing that particular podcast. But just expanding into season three. I can’t believe it’s season three. And addressing other topics in healthcare, I think is really important. We’ve got so much to talk about.

[00:34:19] Well, there’s inclusion, there’s public health inequalities we’ve got to talk about. Integration between health and social care I think is very powerful. We’re seeing transformation going on there, international comparison. So it’s been a privilege and honour for me to be part of all of this. And I’m as excited as you for Voices of Care season three. And I would love you to come back and tell us more about the work that you’re doing as the Chief Ethical Officer, because I think we’ve never seen a change as profound in terms of the shift to community that we’re seeing here in the UK. And I guess that’s where a lot of your focus will be now over the next few years.

[00:34:58] Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to keep me busy. I know it is. And I never do anything by halves, so I am throwing myself into the role quite literally and really loving what I’m doing. And, you know, we want to change the world. But let’s start with Newcross, let’s start with the UK. We really want to embed standards. There are so many wonderful organisations out there that every day they’re delivering really high standards of care nurses, health care staff, you know, other allied professionals. They’re delivering high standards of care every single day. But there are also areas where standards do need to be improved and do need to be addressed. And we want to make sure in Newcross that we are absolutely leading from the front with standards, with caring for individuals with dignity, compassion and kindness, and making sure that all of our Newcross personnel, our nurses and our health care staff, it’s part of their DNA because it’s part of mine and it’s part of ours. So it’s so important.

[00:36:19] On that wonderful note, I’m sure your grandfather is looking on with tremendous pride, taking those passions and those values forward. Michelle Gorringe, thank you very much for your time.

[00:36:30] Thank you very much.

[00:36:31] You’re welcome. If you’ve enjoyed this episode of Voices of Care, please like, follow or subscribe wherever you receive your podcasts from. And if you want to find out more about how we are re-envisioning health and social care, please visit newcrosshealthcare.com/voicesofcare. In the meantime, I’m Suhail Mirza, thank you very much and look forward to seeing you in season three. Thank you.

 

Meet our host, Suhail Mirza

Suhail says: “I have never seen the healthcare system under so much transformation, but our Voices of Care podcast is an opportunity to listen, understand and help shape the future of care for all of us.


Join me, and a lineup of leaders and luminaries from across health and social care, as we debate how we can enable the workforce of the future and truly deliver the care service that Britain deserves.”

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Season 2, episode 20

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