Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 10 October 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

Next month I will have had the privilege of being CEO here at Southampton for three years, and I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you so much to everyone in the trust who has supported me throughout these three years.

As CEO, I have had many moments of joy, pride and fun. However there have also been times when I have honestly thought “I can’t do this. This job is just too difficult” – and on each of these occasions, someone in the hospital, either knowingly or  unknowingly, has inspired me to keep going. Sometimes an individual has helped me, given me advice, or just given me some quiet confidence-boosting. On other occasions someone has just talked to me about their own role and unwittingly reminded me that actually there are many more difficult jobs than mine in this hospital and I need to get over myself! And sometimes an individual has just sent me a nice email – and they will never know how important that email was to me.

I guess this is what being a team is all about, and I have felt incredibly supported by the team which is University Hospital Southampton.

This team working is at the heart of everything that we do and I have become increasingly determined over the last few months that we must stay united despite the national climate. As I wrote in my blog in July:

“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.”

Sadly I think that these words still ring true three months later, and we must work even harder to maintain this.

In the last month, there have been two moments that I will always remember, and which have underlined our ambition to me.

Firstly, when I met the new ‘UHS Fellows’, who are doctors whom we have recruited into non-deanery funded positions. By putting some support and structure into these roles, the training and education team have transformed unattractive roles that were often filled by expensive locums, into desirable and valuable training positions. Many of our UHS Fellows come from all over the world, and their commitment and dedication to medicine is very impressive. When I met these new recruits, two of the doctors came up to me at the end of the session and said “We just wanted to say thank you for making this scheme happen. You don’t realise what a difference you have made to so many lives”. Of course they were thanking the wrong person (!), so naturally I passed on these words to the training and education team who did indeed make this scheme happen. They should be rightly proud that they have created fellowships that  improve care for our patients, but also provide good training opportunities for more doctors, regardless of their nationality.

And secondly, at our recent Open Day, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I walked into Lifelab. It was absolutely full of local children, excitedly doing science experiments and learning about personal health. The room was buzzing with enthusiasm and I could see children completely captivated by the chance to be in a hospital, and be part of a scientific endeavour. We know that opportunities such as this make a real difference in encouraging children of every socio-economic background to see healthcare as a career that they can aspire to – and it’s so important that we open these doors for our local children.

So what I am trying to say is that regardless of whether you come from our Southampton suburbs or the other side of the world, you are welcome to join our team, and we will do our absolute best to support, train and educate you to have a great career in healthcare.

Fiona Dalton


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