Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 15 July 2015


Last week I was talking to a group of managers from across the Trust about how we were doing with our savings programme. I remember from personal experience how hard it is to be a care group manager, managing a tight budget and trying to save money at the same time as trying to support your clinical team to give the best possible patient care.

So I asked them how people were feeling about the financial challenge - and someone said to me that some people were thinking "why bother?".

I was very grateful for the honesty of this answer! And I can absolutely understand why some people might think this, given the scale of the financial challenge facing the whole NHS, and given some of the national headlines referring to deficits of £93 million in other trusts. It’s understandable to think that it is just too difficult, and that national money will be found to bail hospitals out.

But these are my personal top three reasons why I think we "should bother"

  1. Every hour that a patient spends in our hospital is an expensive hour - but we can use this hour to make a real difference to patients - we can change lives by ensuring patients can see again, or walk again. We can bring new lives safely into this world, and we can make peoples' last hours comfortable and pain free.

    These are the moments that add value to patients' lives, and which we must protect at all costs.

    But in all honesty we know that every hour that patients spend with us does not add value to their lives - particularly hours where they are waiting for us to do something, or where we are repeating something that wasn't done right first time.

    We need to keep striving to ensure that every pound that we spend, and every hour that patients are here, adds value to that patient's life.
  2. This is so important because all the money that we spend comes from taxpayers. I am always very conscious of people on the minimum wage. According to my calculations, if you work full time and are paid the minimum wage, you earn just over £13,000 and you pay just over £1,000 every year in income tax. (Of course you also pay VAT and other forms of tax.) I want to be able to look taxpayers like this in the eye and promise them that we have spent every pound of their precious money as well as we possibly can.
  3. We currently have some level of control as a trust. We have at least some influence over our own destiny, and we can make some of our own decisions. For instance we have just been able to commit to the building of a new radiotherapy bunker, to enable us to start the long overdue replacement of the linear accelerators. We have also started to build the next stage of the ED development (which will temporarily be pit-stop bays, making a real difference to the privacy and dignity of patients arriving by ambulance, and in the longer term will be swapped around to form part of the children's ED).

We've agreed a financial plan for this year which we believe is challenging but achievable. And the good news is that, thanks to immense hard work by teams across the Trust, we are currently delivering, and slightly ahead, of this plan. I know that if we keep working together we can continue to improve the value that we add to patients’ lives.

Fiona Dalton

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