Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 20 January 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 

At the end of November last year staff from across the hospital came and met me to tell me what mattered to them and how they felt we could all work differently to ‘make a difference’ to patient care.

Some of the suggestions were relatively straightforward changes that could make a real difference. For instance, many people raised the problem of the lack of up to date computers and printers on the wards, and how this delayed and frustrated clinical staff. I'm pleased that we have been able to spend some of our 'winter pressure' money on trying to improve this. Thanks in particular to Jules Kause and colleagues for drawing up the list of kit which needed fixing and Adrian Byrne and the IT team for getting onto this so quickly.

Some of the other ideas that people suggested (for instance, installing an electronic bed management system) are already planned and should be happening in the next couple of months. Communicating all the things that are going on in the hospital is a real challenge and we are currently considering how we might do this better - if anyone has any suggestions on this please do let myself or Alison Ayres know.

During 2014 I want to personally spend more time listening to staff about how we can improve and ‘make a difference’ to our patients. Of course every week I spend time with different clinical teams and listening to front line staff. It's one of my favourite parts of my job, and just in the last week the conversations that I had with the inspirational ward sisters of E3 and E8 and the very impressive respiratory consultant team gave me so many ideas for things we could do better.

But I will also be holding more open listening events throughout 2014, and will make sure the dates are available very soon. I want to start off this series focusing on outpatients, as we didn't discuss this much in November but since then many teams have spoken to me about their frustrations in this area. And of course for many of our patients it is their only contact with the hospital.

Finally, I received a recent letter from a patient which I thought was very timely and relevant, given the national discussion and focus on 'out of hours' NHS services.

We know how important it is for patients to get this right. Here at UHS I believe we are well ahead of the national position in terms of how teams across the hospital have organised themselves to ensure that services run safely and efficiently, and senior people are available and on-site during evenings, nights and weekends. And many teams have spoken to me about how they plan to continue to change service models to increase support to the hospital during evenings and weekends, whilst balancing the impact on the personal and family life of individual members of staff.

But of course many of our services already run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without fail, and that in many other services teams already work very flexible and extended hours. As I write this on a Sunday afternoon, I know that several theatre lists and three endoscopy lists have been running today, a helicopter is just landing, and I know a full ED team are ready to receive the patient. The impact that this commitment and flexibility of staff has on patients is reflected in this letter from a recent cancer patient:

"I am writing to you about the...experience that I have had as a patient receiving radiotherapy...The treatment was carried out by a team of radiographers, who not only carried out their tasks efficiently but also were thoughtful and caring in their dealings with every patient. Their schedules were complicated by one of the LINAC machines being out of action...on one day during this period my own treatment did not finish until 10pm and yet no hint of tiredness or irritation came from the staff to me. Rather their attitude was that "you, the patient, come first". I saw them as a group of young people who are a credit to the NHS and to Southampton General Hospital and I am most grateful that they made seven and a half weeks far more pleasant for me than they might have been".

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

I am very sorry to hear that you have serious concerns about our service. I am not able to deal with these through my blog but please make contact with me through patient support services on 023 8120 6325.
Fiona Dalton (17/02/2014 10:21:51)
Dear Fiona I'm writting to ask, how come I write to you, send the letter via recorded delivery and I get p.e.a calling to address your hospitals lack of ability to justify cancelling my operation on the day of surgery.Waking me at 6am then telling me at 10.45am that im not going into theater. Also how hours before your so called 52wk rule I receive a phone call from your staff, telling me I was cancelled due to clinical reasons. Now im on a waiting list for further tests, and my surgeon is unavailable till march/april?......or how an anethnitist whom has never met me see's fit to rule me out for surgery without so much as an examination of myself?. Awaiting answers!
Emma Budden (23/01/2014 09:16:24)
Great read.
Matt Sargant (22/01/2014 12:09:58)