Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 12 July 2016

In my personal blog, I'll keep you up to date on what's happening at the Trust, sharing what I think we're doing well and what we can improve.

Fiona Dalton, chief executive

The last two weeks have been a time of unprecedented national political turmoil - certainly it feels different from any previous political situation that I have personally experienced in the UK. I have been particularly struck by the emotional impact on many people, regardless of their background or how they voted in the referendum.

Amidst all the uncertainty however, I am sure of three things.

Firstly, that the people of Southampton, Hampshire and beyond will continue to need acute healthcare, today and every day. Whilst the future political landscape of the UK is debated, babies will be born and road traffic accidents will occur, and individuals will experience crushing central chest pain or worrying symptoms of potential cancer. We have the privilege and responsibility of many millions of people relying on us for their healthcare, and we will continue to be there for them.

Secondly, we know that to care for our patients and run our hospital we rely on staff from our local Southampton area, the rest of the UK, the European Union and the rest of the world. As the Trust Board said in its formal statement last week:

“We could not run this hospital without staff from outside the UK, including the EU and the rest of the world. These staff are not just nurses and doctors but also many other staff. We would like to thank all of these staff for their major contribution to the care of our patients. We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our policy of zero tolerance of any form of racism and abuse. We will work actively with partners both locally and nationally to ensure that the contribution of staff originating outside of the UK is recognised and that they are nationally reassured that they will continue to be needed and valued here”

Thank you to everyone in the hospital who has taken the time during the last fortnight to reach out to colleagues, in particular those who come from outside the UK, and to reiterate how much they are valued by this organisation. We are so lucky that people from all over the world have chosen to come to Southampton to care for patients, to educate future healthcare professionals, and conduct internationally leading healthcare research. We will do everything that we can to make sure that this is recognised both locally and nationally.

Thirdly, there is a risk that the divisiveness of the national situation is replicated locally. The impact on UHS has been a microcosm of what has been felt across the UK. I am deeply saddened that some staff have been exposed to unacceptable prejudiced comments from a tiny but vocal section of the public,  who wrongly feel that the referendum result has given them a right to voice their racist views. We must show our support for our staff and for our values, which render any discrimination completely unacceptable.

It would be so easy to become divided – between those born in the UK and those outside, between EU staff and those from the rest of the world. Divided on the basis of our skin colour, how we voted, which generation we are – even by whether we have children or not.

But we are better than this. We are one team and one UHS, and every single member of this multi-national team is important, regardless of our nationality, ethnicity, sexuality or any other characteristic. One of our three values is ‘working together’ and we will not tolerate discrimination or abuse on any grounds. We have talked in the last week about the concept of ‘no bystanders’ – that none of us will stand by whilst a colleague is abused or discriminated against. Only by holding true to this can we collectively be the best that we can be, and give our patients what they deserve.

Fiona Dalton


We welcome your comments on this blog.

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