Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 19 February 2018

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

I started writing this whilst sitting in beautiful sunshine, eating my breakfast on a Sunday morning. For me it was a real moment of joy - and a reminder of how lovely it will be when spring finally arrives. Our night sister/site manager, one of the wisest people in the hospital, said to me once "every night will end" and I have often thought of the truth of this.

(Incidentally, by the time I had finished writing this, a hail storm had set in! Which proves that any mention of spring is tempting fate in the same way that a suggestion in a hospital that we're "having a quiet day" guarantees the arrival of a combined influenza and norovirus epidemic).

We know that winter is far from over and we are still under significant emergency pressure. But regardless of what happens in the next few months, I will always remember December 2017 and January 2018. I will not feel good about the pressure that staff were put under, nor the length of time some patients waited for treatment or admission. However I will always feel proud of how UHS staff responded to the situation.

I will remember the clarity of purpose that our moral responsibility was to do what we could to maintain the safety of patients across the region.

Across the hospital I heard people saying that the most unsafe patients were those who were still at home, waiting for an ambulance to arrive - and therefore we must not allow ambulances to queue for our ED. When possible we accepted ambulance diverts, thereby increasing pressure on our own services even further, to avoid excessive ambulance queues elsewhere.

We tried very hard to balance this focus on emergency patients with the needs of our urgent elective patients. We know that the vast majority of inpatient elective surgical patients that are admitted to the SGH site have clinically urgent needs – whether that is for cancer, cardiovascular or other urgent problems – and everyone has worked exceptionally hard to keep this surgery going wherever possible.

Because of this, inevitably some of those patients whose treatment is not clinically urgent have very sadly had to be delayed. I am very conscious of the impact that this has on people's lives. A patient recently wrote to me to thank the oral maxillo-facial team for sorting out a dental issue for her. To our team it was a very minor operation, but the patient explained to me that she had not been able to sleep for six months due to the excruciating pain - and that this was now completely solved. I'm anxious that we don't forget the transformative effect that 'non-clinically urgent' surgery can have.

But through all of this, there are individual patients, and a thousand stories of triumph and disaster, of tragedy, compassion, pain and commitment.

And here is just one.

On a recent weekend, the respiratory team were called down to the Emergency Department resus room to assess one of their long term patients. Very sadly it was clear that she would not be able to survive this acute episode, and the team were already looking after her husband on the high dependency unit. With the help and commitment of many people, they managed to reunite this elderly couple so that they could share her last few hours together, and they were helped to talk to each other and be together.

This is what UHS is about. This is what I will remember.

Fiona Dalton


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Page comments

Having followed Fiona’s blogs over the last 3 year’s, and seen and heard about her outstanding leadership and resolve within the Trust there can be absolutely no doubt about she is an inspirational Chief Executive - one in a hundred, or even a thousand. She will be truly missed. But a real gain to Canada. No one is irreplaceable but she will be sorely missed, and l hope that the new Chief Executive will strive to reach the same level of excellence.
Anonymous (01/04/2018 11:11:30)