Great teams and great people

Last week Carolyn Morrice and I were honoured to represent the Trust at an awards ceremony in London where BHT was named as one of the top 40 trusts in the UK  by health intelligence specialists CHKS.

Awards CKHS_buckinghamshire_web

The award is a great reflection on the continuing improvements we are making in our progress towards becoming one of the safest healthcare systems in the country, and is another example of external recognition for your fantastic achievements in patient care and experience.

The guest speaker was explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and just a few days later his speech about evaluating the terrain ahead and embracing the unexpected came to mind as the NHS was caught up in the global cyber attack. Although relieved that we were not directly affected, I know that a lot of people spent significant time working over the weekend managing the situation and ensuring contingencies were in place. I want to say a huge thank you to you all.

These recent events have reinforced my view that we have great teams and great people working in the Trust – dedicated, compassionate and caring – and your commitment to our patients, service users and communities is humbling.

What else have I been up to:

  • The value of providing great care for the youngest in our community was reinforced to me when I shadowed Ellie Howard, a Health Visitor in Buckingham. The changing role of health visitors, providing a range of support and being the bridge between midwifery, school nursing and GPs was evident and it is important that we continue to support these teams to collaborate with each other
    Neil with health visitor Ellie_web
  • Whilst in Buckingham I visited the community hospital and staff told me that team morale was improving – something reflected across the Trust in the encouraging results from the recent staff survey – and they felt supported by the senior nursing staff on the wards Neil on inpatient ward at buckingham_web
  • I met with GPs to discuss how we can work more closely together and also participated in a workshop with colleagues from across Buckinghamshire to discuss how we can develop as an accountable care system
  • I attended the NHS Improvement’s Chief Executive Advisory Committee, presented the annual governance statement at the Trust’s Audit Committee, attended Quality Committee, and with the rest of the executive team we discussed our operational performance with NHSI at our regular oversight meeting
  • I met with cardiology, integrated therapies, paediatrics, oncology, respiratory medicine and haematology SDUs to discuss the development of their service strategies
  • I spent Feedback Friday with the cardiac and stroke teams at Wycombe Hospital where I saw the newly refurbished Hyper Acute Stroke Unit which was launched just last week and work was underway for the new catheter laboratory due to be ready in August
  • “We can and we will” was the message of the week when I met Belinda from the validation team for my “randomized coffee trial” meet-up. It was good to have the opportunity to chat and find out more about the team
  • I visited several clinical areas at Stoke Mandeville where, for example, colleagues on Ward 10 described SAFER work and its impact on length of stay
  • I visited the urology suite at Wycombe where the team have made good progress with the recruitment to new roles and its nursing teams
  • I, along with Neil Macdonald and non-executive director Graeme Johnston, represented the Trust at the Scannapeal 30th anniversary celebration event. Scannappeal has been a major supporter of the Trust since it was set up in 1987 raising over £12m to benefit and improve patient care.
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Ambitious plans ahead

As we enter a new financial year and year two of our ambitious transformation strategy to become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country, I want to start by saying a huge thank you to you all.

I was recently speaking to leaders at our first BHT way leadership conference (you can watch the videos here) and meeting staff at engagement sessions across our community sites, and I heard first-hand about the developments in local areas and about some of the great work teams are doing. Despite the challenges we are facing including rising costs, a growing population, increase in demand and intense scrutiny, you all did some fantastic work in 2016/17 and worked extremely hard to deliver improvements in quality and patient experience.

Looking to this year, our vision remains the same. We still want to be one of the safest healthcare systems in the county and we plan to do this by sticking to our three strategic priorities – quality, people and money. We have no new plans or strategies, but we know we will need to do things differently if we are to continue the rate of improvement and build on the great work we have done.

For me, different will mean five things:

  1. Developing the organisation

We are going to look at the way we develop business cases and the way we drive IT so it’s more intuitive and helpful to you. We are also looking at ways to enable quicker decisions, reducing the meetings process and removing duplication in the organisation.

  1. Leadership

When I became chief executive we set up a leadership development programme and 80-100 leaders have already benefitted. Despite our financial challenges we are continuing to invest in this important area with more staff going through the programme as it will help to grow the capability of our organisation, and support more local accountability and control.

  1. Improvement and innovation

The organisations that really deliver fast rates of improvement have a single methodology of how they deliver change. We have seen some really good practice in that over the last couple of years, but we have more to do to ensure that that consistent methodology is applied every time. We are also going to focus and invest in innovation.

  1. Shaping the environment

Demand is going up and as community needs are changing we are going to work with our partners to shape and lead the environment through new contractual models, new models of care and shifting our resources from acute services into the community so that we change the way healthcare is delivered in the future.

  1. Patient voice

We have a really strong patient experience strategy and organisations that really see change are ones where the patient is at the centre of everything they do. We are investing in systems so that we can get real time feedback from patients and will work closer with partners so there’s a stronger role for the patient voice.

The infographic below provides you with a summary of these key areas.

There’s one more thing that will help us continue the rate of improvement and that’s us having the confidence to recognise and celebrate our teams and the organisation internally and externally. We often wait until we have finished the journey before we celebrate what we have done, but if we want to get outstanding and become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country we need to start sharing our successes and have more confidence in the fantastic work we do.

You should be proud of what you have delivered so far – real and substantive improvements in care for our patients and the communities that we serve. This year will be one of ambitious but achievable change. We’re recognising and responding to local and national healthcare challenges and succeeding because we have a clear strategy, the plans and people to deliver it.


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A seasonal message from Neil

Dear colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work this year. You are transforming BHT and making a difference to patient care every day.

Over the past year, we’ve continued to show real improvements against our three strategic priorities of quality, people and money, whilst seeing an increasing demand on our services – 10% in our acute services, and a 22% rise in our community services.

Our highlights are too many to list here, but include those I mentioned in my recent video message :

I am also grateful for the ongoing support and contribution of our volunteers and fundraisers, as well as our patients and the general public who have given up their time to help us improve patient care.

Your achievements are all the more remarkable when set against the backdrop of what is one of the most challenging times for the NHS. There are further challenges ahead, but I believe that we have an ambition and a clear strategy in place to meet them.

Working together the BHT Way – empowering our patients, engaging our communities and partners and enabling our staff – we will continue on our journey to become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country. Exciting plans to look forward to include the expansion of our stroke services at Wycombe, developing community hubs, continuing our work with primary and social care to support patients in the community and going much further in our quality improvement plans.

Once again, I would like to thank you for all you have done this year. For those of you working over the festive period, a huge thank you, and for those taking time off, I hope you have a well-deserved break.

Season’s Greetings and here’s to an exciting and successful 2017.


Watch a seasonal message from Neil by clicking this link below to his latest vlog.


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Spotlight on the national spinal injuries centre (NSIC)

If you have attended any of my staff sessions, or watched my vlog, you will have heard me talk about the importance of sharing our achievements. Most services are modest about their achievements, but I believe that success breeds success. And in the last few weeks we have had much to shout about.

I hope you got the opportunity to listen to the three hour live Radio Five Live broadcast from the gym at our national spinal injuries centre (NSIC) on 29 November – either on the day or on catch-up.

Host Adrian Chiles has a special interest in the impact of spinal injuries after forging a close friendship with one of our ex-patients, David Smith. He had personally requested to come back with David and spotlight his journey of recovery and at the same time draw attention to the work the unit does in supporting patients through the challenging, but often life-affirming, rehabilitation journeys following a spinal injury.




I was immensely proud watching our staff really rise to the occasion of appearing live on radio – and speaking eloquently and with passion about their work. That so many patients wanted to come on the show as a way of thanking and ‘giving back’ something to the unit and were so giving in sharing their stories of will and determination – was a testament to the high regard in which the staff are held.

It was clear to me when listening to the show that the team, whilst recognising the challenges of their work, clearly love their jobs. It makes me more determined than ever to continue on our journey to make BHT a great place to work.

Only the next day, in the very same room I joined friends, colleagues and family members  to remember and pay tribute to our close colleague and Trust head of clinical psychology and head of clinical psychology at the national spinal injuries centre (NSIC), Professor Paul Kennedy who sadly died suddenly in September this year. We heard and read accolades from around the world to Paul’s many accomplishments and lasting legacy, but also about the humility and warmth which marked him out as a special human being.


L-R: Richard Tolkien, Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research Trustee, myself, Paul’s wife Oonagh, Dr Jane Duff Consultant Clinical Psychologist and NSIC Clinical Psychology Lead, and Dr Nigel Kin, consultant clinical neuropsychologist – speakers at the commemorative tea

We were privileged to have worked in the shadow of Paul, whose influence in forging the psychology department at NSIC and developing that discipline across other specialties and in continuing to push the boundaries in this important field was felt by everyone he met.

Perhaps Paul’s most lasting legacy is the internationally-acclaimed goal planning and needs assessment programme, designed from the outset to place patients at the centre of their rehab planning – from hospital back into the community.

It was fitting, then, that on 23 November, I attended with the NSIC team the national HSJ Awards where BHT had been shortlisted in the ‘most effective and adoption and diffusion of best practice’ category. The very fact of being shortlisted was a fantastic achievement. It is credit to Paul that the vision of patient-centred care he pioneered is at the heart of the Trust’s quality strategy today.

It has been an emotional time for the team at the NSIC, but one which has solidified its position as a world-leading centre of excellence. It also demonstrated the unit’s commitment to both our CARE values and our ambitions to continue to grow and lead the way in areas of excellence which we can all be proud of.

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First vlog

Watch Neil’s first vlog. In it Neil shares his thoughts on the achievements that have been made over the last 12 months, looks at our ambitions for the future, our strategy based on three clear priorities: quality; people and money and explains how we’re going to deliver on our plans.

Click here to view the vlog.


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Proud to be your CEO

Further to Hattie’s announcement last week regarding my appointment as chief executive officer for BHT, I wanted to write to you and thank you for your support and hard work.

It has been a great honour leading this organisation over the past 18 months. You have delivered significant improvements for our patients, demonstrating our CARE values on a daily basis. The impact of your work is clear to see.

Last year we established the BHT way, bringing a new sense of ambition and aspiration to the organisation. It is an ambition that I don’t want us to lose sight of as we look to the future. It has been central to the development of our five year strategy. A strategy that is defined by a focus on quality, people and money – we cannot tackle these in isolation. It is realistic of the challenges facing the NHS, but does not allow us to settle for mediocrity.

We are in year one of delivering our plan and I am certain that more of the same will not deliver the outcomes we are looking for. We will go backwards if we don’t increase our pace and momentum and focus our efforts on those priorities that will have the biggest impact for us.

For me, I think it includes improving the visibility of our leaders across our organisation. It includes listening to the voices of our patients, communities and staff when developing our transformation plans. It includes working with partners across the system, as we cannot achieve our ambition on our own. It includes enabling a greater dialogue between our clinicians, GPs and other health and care professionals. And it requires greater transparency in decision making.

These are themes that I am keen to discuss further with you throughout August and September, and I am scheduling a number of sessions and events to involve as many staff as possible. Please look out for further details over the coming weeks. In the meantime, whatever you have planned, I hope you have an enjoyable summer.

I am proud to have the opportunity to continue working alongside you to make BHT one of the safest healthcare systems in the country.


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Valuing our staff

Dear colleague

In the last few days we have undoubtedly witnessed a shift in our political and possibly social landscape; there is no doubt that we face a period of uncertainty, and it will be a while before we fully understand the implications of Friday’s vote to leave the European Union on us all personally, and on the NHS. I know that the corridors and staff rooms have been alive with debate and clearly this will continue to be a topic of conversation for weeks to come.

Whatever the practical implications, the high regard and respect with which we value all our staff, including – particularly at the moment – our colleagues who come from abroad to take up the offer to work in the NHS, remains the same. There is absolutely no doubt that without your contribution BHT would not be able to offer the great patient care and experience it does today.

We have the opportunity, and the responsibility, as colleagues to focus not on that which makes us different, but that which unites us: our shared common purpose to care for people who are sick and in need of our help. Now, more than ever, we must demonstrate our CARE values and celebrate what brings us together and what makes our Trust and our health service so great: our people – every one of you.

Many of you will already have taken the opportunity to offer support and reassurance to colleagues, and I thank you for that. Please continue to reinforce this message; we can all play our part in making sure that staff and patients feel welcome and valued in our Trust.

Yours sincerely



Neil Dardis
Chief Executive


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