Fiona Dalton, CEO

Chief executive's blog - 31 March 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


You might think that the last thing that the NHS needs is another league table and sometimes it is hard to keep up with all the new ways in which we are measured. But the recent publication of the learning from mistakes league caught my eye. I thought it was a welcome recognition that openness and honesty is at the heart of getting things right in healthcare.

We know that things go wrong in hospitals because we are human, we work in a highly pressurised environment and we make mistakes – and most importantly, because our systems and processes are not always set up to prevent these mistakes happening.

So a learning from mistakes league is interesting and, like every league table, it shows what you can measure and what you can't. It looks at the fairness and effectiveness of procedures for reporting errors; near misses and incidents; staff confidence and security in reporting unsafe clinical practice; and the percentage of staff who feel able to contribute towards improvements at their trust. 

All of these measures are extremely important and I'm very pleased that UHS is rated as good. But I'm also very conscious of what it doesn't measure.

It doesn’t measure whether everyone in a hospital believes, deep in their heart, that they will be supported if they talk honestly about a mistake that they have made. Whether they will be taken seriously if they raise a safety concern, regardless of their profession, grade, or background. Whether a hierarchical environment is inhibiting honest debate, or whether everyone is encouraged to be part of making services better for patients.

All of these things are a product of our culture, and it's very hard to rank this in a league table. But getting our culture right is one of the most important parts of becoming the safest and best hospital that we can be and we are all part of creating this culture.

George says yes!

Earlier this month, as most people will know, the Chancellor announced that money would be used from Libor fines to contribute to our new children's emergency department (ED). This is fantastic news and I wanted to say thank you very much to everyone who worked behind the scenes to enable this to happen - in particular our local MPs, led by Steve Brine, our long time supporters Sarah Parrish and Jim Murray, the Daily Echo, and many others.

The new children's ED will transform the environment for children and their families, but it will also release more space for adult emergency patients, and more space on G level to expand tertiary children's services.

However, we still need everyone's help to make the new department a reality as the government's money is matched funding - they will pay half but we have to fundraise for the other half. We will shortly be launching the fundraising phase of the campaign and I’d like to thank you in advance for your help in this!

The fundraising will be hard work, but we know the new department will be worth it because, as the Chancellor wrote in his formal letter to me, the Libor fines money should go to causes that represent the “best of values” and “the work of staff at Southampton Children's Hospital epitomises those values.”

Thank you.

Fiona Dalton

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