Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 2 May 2014

In my personal blog, I will keep you up to date on what is happening at the Trust, sharing what I think we are doing well and what we can improve.

Fiona Dalton, chief executive

Reading the letters that we've received from patients and relatives, and reviewing the draft responses, is often both my daily highlight and lowlight. These letters often encapsulate the best and worst of the care that we have given to patients.

I am particularly struck by the number of letters that we receive from relatives who talk about how we cared for a patient - often their mother, brother, aunt or child - who sadly died. The large majority of these letters are incredibly positive about the staff who cared for their relative, and I think this is a particularly striking tribute to the clinical teams involved.

How we care for someone in their last days says such a lot about us, both as a society and a hospital. I know that we don't always get it right and on these occasions I am determined that we properly review what happened, and learn from it so that we can be better in the future.

A few weeks ago I was able to spend a couple of hours with the hospital palliative care team. It was a privilege to witness our specialist nurses and doctors take the time with patients to understand their issues and create a truly joint treatment plan. I was impressed with how person-centred their approach was, and how well the team was able to work with the hospice and community services. I'm so pleased that we are working with Marie Curie Cancer Care on a pilot to better co-ordinate services across the whole community.

But of course almost every clinical team in the hospital provides end of life care. The difference that we can make, when we get this right, is described perfectly in the following letter, which I have copied with permission from the author. Re-reading this letter, my hope and aspiration would be that we could "sweep up into very caring and compassionate arms" every patient who reaches the end of their life.

“[In November] our beautiful 19 month old grandson....died in HDU in the children’s department at your hospital. I want to say that the PICU and HDU staff and care was outstanding. From the time we arrived with [my grandson] it felt that we as a family with a very sick little boy were swept up into very caring and compassionate arms. I observed high standards of care and professionalism..... The staff worked hard and would spend time interacting with relatives offering information and comfort.

The one thing that stands out is that we always felt welcome and part of [my grandson's] care. I cannot remember the wonderful nurses and doctors names but without exception they were all wonderful. One name that I do remember and want to say a special thanks to and that was June (bed manager I think), June was exceptional in every sense of the word. When [my grandson] arrested she took care of us while staff worked on him and when he died she was just fantastic. She guided us through preparing [my grandson] and giving us time and space, providing a room for us to spend time with him as a family even catering for my other two grandchildren by providing juice and biscuits and toys so that we could deal with everything else. June stayed with us long after her shift finished ensuring we were ok. I cannot praise her enough for her care and compassion and commitment towards our family. She went above and beyond continuing the outstanding care given by all your staff.

We were very sad that [my grandson] had so little time with us and always worried how his final illness would be, we knew it would be difficult but I know that he could not have received better care anywhere else in the world and for that I want to say a big thanks to all your wonderful staff.”

Thank you.

Fiona Dalton


We welcome your comments on this blog.

If you have any specific concerns or need advice about the care you have received at our hospitals, please contact our patient support services on 023 8120 6325 or

Please note the Trust reserves the right not to publish any responses which are offensive or inappropriate.

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Page comments

Mother admitted as an emergency over bank holiday weekend. Care by resuss team was fantastic - and they were so busy!

thanks to those too numerous to mention - proud of the NHS!
Jane Rennie (06/05/2014 11:58:29)
Iain Beardsell, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at UHS, has also just written a blog on end of life care. It is beautifully written and well-worth a read:
Fiona Dalton (06/05/2014 07:50:01)