Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 22 April 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

I've been thinking a lot recently about working together across organisations, and how fundamental it will be to UHS's future success in our increasingly complex, networked and rapidly changing world.

The sound of a helicopter circling overhead is one of the many changes over the past couple of years, and of course the helicopter is just the most obvious sign of the large, multi-organisational team that is the Wessex Trauma Network.  

It's only two years since the major trauma networks were created across the country, and the results have been immediately dramatic. Nationally one in five patients who would have previously died are now surviving. And given that trauma is still the leading cause of death in children and adults under the age of 40 this is a striking example of how patients can benefit from us working together across the NHS, and from the centralisation of highly specialist services.

At the recent peer review our Wessex Trauma Network was specifically complimented on the partnership working between hospitals and ambulance services across the region. This was of course great to hear, and they also had other helpful new perspectives and suggestions which, as with all external reviews, will be very useful in continuing to help us improve.

But the network was able to take partnership work another step forward a couple of weeks later, when they held their Injury Prevention Conference. Sadly I was only able to attend for an hour, but I was fascinated to see the wider public sector - not just the NHS but also the police, coastguard and charitable organisations - working together to pool data, research and ideas to reduce accidents and injury.

Then a few weeks later I was able to attend a lecture by Professor Luca Richeldi (professor of respiratory medicine and honorary UHS consultant) and Dr Anna Barney (engineer and researcher from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton). Through this innovative partnership between medicine and sound engineering they have been able to use electronic stethoscopes to help early diagnosis of rare lung diseases, and thereby enable earlier and better treatment for patients.

Both of these examples made me think about how we can create new partnerships with a variety of organisations to truly make a difference for patients. We know that we need to work with other organisations to move forward in many ways - whether it's working with the University of Southampton to forge truly world class research collaborations, with other acute providers to develop networks to provide specialist care, or with local community and social care providers to enable patients to be treated as close to home as possible, and to help resolve our capacity problems within the hospital. Working in this way doesn’t mean we absolve responsibility but it does mean that we need to work out how to work differently across organisational boundaries.

Of course patients often don’t see or understand these organisational boundaries, and when they write to me to say thank you for their care, they often include their GP, ambulance trust, other hospitals and social services in their letter of thanks to me. I think the invisibility of organisational boundaries to patients is a sign that we have all done our jobs well – and I always try to pass on copies of these letters to the teams involved, regardless of the organisation.

This can be a communication challenge for me when large teams across many organisations are involved, but one recent letter summed up for me the importance, and simplicity, of the patient’s perspective. After a lengthy description of emergency admission and complex treatment it ended as follows:

“It would mean a lot to me if you could ensure that a copy of this letter reaches all those NHS employees who were involved in my care, for they need to be aware that I, and probably thousands of others, owe them a debt that we can never repay”.

Thank you.

Fiona Dalton


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Page comments

Thank you very much for all the comments, and I’m really pleased that people have found my blog informative and uplifting. The anonymous comment about not being too positive is a good point – I try to balance celebrating everything that we do well, with being open about where we should be better – but I will continue to try to get the right balance on this.
With regards to the comment about Lymington, I just wanted to explain that University Hospital Southampton doesn’t run Lymington Hospital, as this is part of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. We do however work closely with Southern Health and it is great to hear what a good experience you had there.
Fiona Dalton (13/05/2014 13:04:49)
I think there can be too much good news in blogs such as this, and a little bit about current difficulties would give the message more credibility. Everyone knows that not everything can be perfect!
Good to hear about the joined up thinking involved in trauma care in interesting detail though.
Anonymous (01/05/2014 12:35:13)
It is grateful to hear and know that credits are given to whom it is due. Congratulations on your blog and we'll look forward for your future updates.
Jean-Paul Evangelista (25/04/2014 15:33:53)
I rate this Page as a
definite 5 Star Rating,
very interesting reading.
Ted Sainty (24/04/2014 11:14:43)
Fascinating stuff! And nice to hear that people ARE happy with what the NHS does for them. That has certainly been my experience talking to 90% of my patients. If you read the Daily Telegraph and the Mail, you'd think no one was!
Dr John Glasspool. GP Shirley, Soton (23/04/2014 18:27:51)
Wonderful Blog, and it's comforting to know that we have a wonderful trauma centre helped with along with services such as HIOWAA (which I am a volunteer).
Aftercare can and does go wrong after leaving the care of ED/trauma. Personal experiences (health sadly has meant I've spent a lot of time in Southampton General and 95% of it has been supberb) but have found that the care system between directorates various greatly. Some directorates are so much better than others (mainly because they're properly staffed who don't mind doing the menial of tasks) to those wards where you end up finding things seriously wrong ie. finding sharps on the floor (and then be accused by the nursing staff of the sharps belong to yourself and the implications that follow), to uncaring nurses/HCAs etc. Thankfully these are few in number.

Keep up the good work and look forward to the next Blog.
All in all, we ARE so lucky
Anonymous (23/04/2014 09:48:10)
Your Blog is very interesting and it looks like that you are achieving what you want to, reaching the goals for the future.
Thankyou for your valued support at all times. Withou people like you it would be a different matter all together.
Anonymous (22/04/2014 19:44:07)
Thoroughly informative blog.
Michael Slipper (22/04/2014 18:02:03)
very informative
Anonymous (22/04/2014 17:57:16)
Going through all the facilities the Trust has I have not seen mention of Lymington Hospital. Jointly with my Doctor Dr. C. Alveyn at Totton Health Centre, Southampton General Hospital and its fabulous Staff and Lymington Hospital I have received treatment equal to that of the Royal Family and kept me alive, THANK YOU
Brian L Harrison (22/04/2014 14:50:11)