Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 7 September 2015

Over the last couple of weeks I've held open sessions across the Trust, on the General Hospital site but also at our smaller sites including the New Forest Birth Centre and Countess Mountbatten House, to talk about our new vision.

The words in this vision are a product of almost a year of discussion across the Trust - so I very much hope that when people read it, it feels familiar and like 'our vision'. It doesn't talk about individual services - because there are just too many - but instead it talks about what unites us, and how by focussing on patients, working together and maintaining our constant drive for improvement, we can give better care for our patients.

But the challenge with a vision is how to make it real. It's too easy to write nice words – and very hard to actually deliver on them. I'm therefore particularly pleased that last week we were able to make a small step towards one of our commitments in the vision.

One of the important themes within the vision is about valuing and caring for everyone who works or volunteers at UHS – in summary, treating our staff as we would like them to treat our patients, with compassion.

There are many different aspects to this – including how we provide education and training, our commitment to equality and diversity and our leadership and management approach. It's also about our culture and how we all behave every day - how we treat colleagues across the hospital, particularly when we are under pressure.

But a very important part of how we value staff is about how we support their health and wellbeing. Which is why the vision says that we will "take every opportunity to further support and improve the health of our staff".

I think we all know how important it is to look after ourselves – to eat healthily, take enough exercise, not smoke, not drink too much and to look after our mental health. Equally we all know how hard it is to actually do all of these things! And a physically, intellectually or emotionally demanding job can make it even harder.

I’m therefore delighted that we were invited to be one of the ten NHS organisations to lead the national new initiative to improve health in the workforce.

We're in a good place to do this – we have a proactive occupational health department with lots of good initiatives already, plus we have the national Biomedical Research Centre for Nutrition, and the National Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Health and Work. I think we also have some trust-wide momentum on this - I have been struck by the number of people who are approaching me from across the Trust to talk about how we can, for instance, better support the emotional resilience of teams involved in potentially traumatic events, or how we can help more staff to use local leisure facilities, or how we can use the opening of the new main entrance to re-state our commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

So I think we can do this – and we can do it in a ‘UHS way’, that is evidence based, that builds upon our research strengths, and that recognizes the diversity within our workforce.

Recently I have noticed a pattern whereby I spend lots of time thinking hard about what I want to say as CEO, and about the words that I want to use - and then a patient writes to me and says it so much better than the words that I have just drafted!

This weekend a recent patient within the medicine for elderly care service emailed me to say thank you for the “wonderful care” that she received on ward G6. She talked about the nurses, cleaners, HCAs and therapists, and how well they managed potentially difficult situations. But in particular, she said:

“Almost the nicest thing to observe was the way the staff looked out for each other, with help and love. A truly superb atmosphere must make for quicker healing, I'm sure. I almost enjoyed my emergency six days with them."

These words – “looking out for each other, with help and love” – is what it’s all about.

Fiona Dalton


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Page comments

Thanks for your question. As part of our integrated service with Solent Healthcare we do have singing therapy for patients with COPD. All other patients with respiratory disorders can access breathing retraining and exercises through the respiratory physiotherapy service, at the Respiratory centre. They will accept GP referrals.
Denise Gibson (06/10/2015 15:19:21)
I've found out that in Queen Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, they provide musical therapy for people with repertory conditions on the NHS. Breathing lessons for people with poor lung capacity; would be very helpful to your patients. I pay a private voice teacher £12.50 per half hour. Why can't I get this in Southampton.
Mr Derek A. Buxey (04/10/2015 16:08:21)