Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 31 August 2017

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

At this time of year I always think about all the (mostly) young people getting their GCSE and A level results – I think about all the varying emotions of anxiety, joy and despair, and the decisions that they will be making about future education, work and career choices.

In particular I’ve been thinking about why you might choose to work in healthcare.

Earlier this week I met a member of the paediatric orthopaedic outpatient team who amazingly has worked for the NHS for 53 years! I asked him what he would say to young people about a career in healthcare, and he talked about the opportunity to work in a great team, and to make a difference.

This was illustrated so powerfully in the documentary last night about Taylor, a young man who was cared for by our neuro intensive care unit (ICU) following a road traffic accident. If you haven’t watched this very powerful film, I would highly recommend it – it showed beautifully the expertise and compassion of neuro ICU, and the difference that this team made to an individual patient and their family. View the documentary

I also received a letter from a patient last week which illustrated the impact of our services in a very different way, and I have copied (with her permission) some of her words here:

“I’m writing this as I want you to know about my amazing experience at the Princess Anne Hospital and to ensure that the team involved is aware of my gratitude, appreciation, and heartfelt thanks......I'm conscious that it has taken a huge team to get me through to this stage of my treatment and I'm really keen that every single one of them knows that I am incredibly grateful for the outstanding care and attention I have received.
I went along for a routine mammogram and then I received a letter asking me to go for a second stage tests. This letter knocked me for six and……. I spent the next few days in a state of anxiety..... I had a second mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy and the radiologist told me there and then that she thought it was cancer. Not a great thing to hear but I appreciated being told the truth. I was taken out of her office and the breast care nurse then spent some time with me as I tried to make sense of what I had been told. She was quite simply fabulous and without her that morning I think I would have crumbled. With great care she took me through the next steps and answered every one of my questions honestly and with patience.
Then followed the most horrendous week waiting before my husband and I went back to receive the results. We were shown in to see my surgeon who immediately, and in the most marvellous upbeat manner, told me the facts and that there was a plan to cure me. I can't remember the exact words but her delivery and genuine compassion was fantastic. Even though she was in effect giving me bad news it didn't feel like that at all, on the contrary, her super positive approach just made me feel relieved....... One thing that really touched me, was when she explained where and what kind of incision she would be making and how careful she would be not to leave a huge scar. I replied that I really didn't care what the scar was like but she said 'but I care and so will you after a few months so let's get it right'. That just stuck with me and that comment along with everything else she said to me, her genuine warmth and caring nature just left us both feeling so confident that I was in the best possible hands.
The next day I had my assessment before being sent to nuclear medicine (once again super people looked after me) and back to E level to see the radiologist who was lovely, warm and reassuring. The specialist nurse stopped by to check on me and give me a boost. By the time I got back to D level I was relaxed and happy and my pulse, blood pressure and temperature, that had been very high, were now normal - your team had collectively made me feel so calm.
My anaesthetist was excellent when he came to introduce himself to take me through his part in the procedure, and once again as he was getting me ready for theatre. The friendly theatre team were extremely impressive, creating a relaxed and chatty atmosphere at the same time as executing the things they had to do.
The nurses back in the ward were great, and focused on getting me up and about and home.... with a great sense of humour and lots of encouragement. I left hospital that evening feeling I had been in the hands of the most amazing, highly skilled professionals...with huge hearts. It didn't end there. The specialist nurses have been on the phone to check up on me and to offer support and advice. 
I have no idea what the results will be when I come back to you next week but I feel in the safest hands and confident that whatever happens I'm absolutely with the right team in the right hospital.......Every single one of your team has made me feel that they really care about saving my life and I am so thankful for that.”

In conclusion, I think that if I was considering a career in healthcare - whether that be as an allied health professional, nurse, midwife, doctor, secretary, manager, healthcare scientist or any other of the many vital roles – I would watch the neuro ICU documentary and read this patient letter. And when I thought about what I wanted to do with my life, I would want to be part of a team that could have such a powerful impact on a fellow human, at one of the most difficult moments in their life.

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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