Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 6 March 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

Over the last few weeks I’ve had several conversations with different colleagues about how it feels like we’ve had a very long winter. The last three months have been difficult and despite everyone’s best efforts there have been many occasions when I know we’ve felt that we’ve not been able to give patients the standard of care that we would want to. The numbers of patients needing emergency hospital admission has been higher than we’ve ever experienced and balancing this with patients needing urgent and elective surgery has been very challenging. In many areas we still have high levels of staff vacancies and teams across the hospital have worked so hard to do their absolute best for patients.

At UHS we have a culture of wanting care to be great for patients and striving for improvement – and it’s so frustrating when we can’t give the standard of care that we would like.

I think that there’s a real challenge for us in trying to maintain our high standards whilst also accepting that sometimes we don’t reach them.

We need to make sure we remember that we get really good feedback from the vast majority of our patients, and we should feel proud of this, but also continuing to feel ambitious, and driven to change things for the 1% of patients who tell us that they aren’t satisfied with their care.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how to square this psychological circle, and as is often the case for me, some music was helpful. In particular I was listening to the song ‘Human’ (by Rag’n’Bone Man) and its words seemed to speak to me about this.

Firstly it seemed to me to be talking about ‘human factors’ – how we need to try to design systems in healthcare that prevent human error, because we are all ‘only human after all’, and blaming individuals is not the way to make healthcare safer and better.

But secondly it was also reminding us that it is only human to sometimes feel that we personally are not doing enough – and that if only we were better we could solve every problem. But that we should remember that we can’t change the whole world, that we can only ‘do what we can’…..

(Of course it’s possible that he’s actually talking about his relationship with his girlfriend/boyfriend. But that would be disappointing….)

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

Just a very quick comment on my time in the Out Patient Eye Unit this week. Appointment time 14.30. 14.35 - first eye test; 14.45 - follow-on test; 14.55 - further test; 15.10 - eye scan; 15.20 - consultant. 15.30 - left unit! Amazing service. Cannot fault staff or service. Thank you guys.
Dick Davies (26/01/2018 22:50:40)
On Thursday 30th November I underwent EVAR surgery. To populate this comment with superlatives may seem trite but please be assured the treatment I received attained a level I did not think was possible.
At every level quite literally every member of staff, some still mastering the English language, gave eye contact making myself and my wife and daughter at ease, with reassurance.
Your hospital from my experience sets a 'Gold Standard' of healthcare.

Time will tell if my EVAR is successful but for sure what has happened to date fills me with extreme confidence.
Geoffrey J. Jacobs (03/12/2017 10:11:40)
Dear Mr Price,
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on your spinal surgery, I'm so pleased that it went well and that you were so well cared for. I know the spinal team will be very pleased to read your kind words.
with best wishes
Fiona (04/04/2017 12:58:41)
I experienced spinal surgery with the Wessex Neurological Unit over the weekend, admitted Saturday discharged Sunday.
I want to say thank you to Colin Griffiths and his wonderful team, and all the staff on Ward F4 Spinal unit for their help and care with my recovery. I am very fortunate to live in a society with such a tremendous health service. Well done and thanks.
adrian price (03/04/2017 10:16:29)
Dear Sue,
Thank you for taking the time to comment and I do agree, I think we could do more to improve spaces (both inside and out) for staff to take some time out. We were actually talking about this the other day in the staff health and wellbeing board.
Hopefully we will be able to make some progress on this in the next few months.
with best wishes
Fiona (14/03/2017 14:34:20)
I really do appreciate what you have said regarding the care of patients and I know that the staff here have done and are doing a fantastic job against (often) all the odds and I have the greatest respect and admiration for them all. However I feel there is something missing in all that you have written... namely the care and welfare of the staff who work here - in all departments. I work here in the hospital but for the university and it occurs to me on a daily basis that there are very few places designed for staff. By this I mean that the staff, especially who do extremely long hours and therefore spend many many hours in theatres, xray rooms, offices without windows etc etc have very few areas around the hospital both internally and externally. The emphasis seems only to be on patients, visitors and cars!! A happier staff means happier patients and I feel a little more effort should be put into make a few areas comfortable and peaceful for staff to be able to take 'time out' from the busy-ness and sometimes gruelling daily chores. There are pockets around the hospital (e.g. through the bike sheds at the back of the hospital near the South Academic Block) that are cut off at present but would make a peaceful place to sit for half an hour in perfect quiet... just a few benches needed! The refurbishing of the main entrance has certainly helped a great deal in welcoming patients and visitors to this hospital but I feel that the staff could do with somewhere else to go away from the general public. I would just add a very big thank you for the considerable efforts of all involved at SGH. Sue
Anonymous (13/03/2017 14:27:36)
Well said Fiona. Think you might also have upped Rag'n'Bone Man's 'likes' for Human :)
Ying Cheong (11/03/2017 12:06:58)