HEALTH AND CARE: Keeping our eye on the ball for hospital services

Western Sussex Hospitals chairman Mike Viggers
Western Sussex Hospitals chairman Mike Viggers

By Mike Viggers, chairman of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

If a friend, a neighbour or a colleague was going through a difficult time and someone asked you to help, I think we would all say we we’d be happy to do what we could to assist.

We see that all the time in our hospitals – staff members going the extra mile, relatives rallying round, volunteers offering comfort and companionship, communities raising funds.

Now we have been asked to do the same thing ourselves: the regulator of health services, NHS Improvement, has asked Western Sussex Hospitals to help Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) improve the quality, safety and financial sustainability of services there.

We have agreed to do so and from April 1 next year our chief executive Marianne Griffiths will lead BSUH as well as Western Sussex, supported by her executive team.

However, we thought long and hard before saying yes.

Helping our neighbour is clearly the right thing to do, but we need to be confident that we can make a difference at BSUH and maintain the recent progress our own hospitals have made.

There are several important reasons why we believe we can do both.

Firstly, we have an outstanding team with the skills, dedication and working relationships needed to manage the new arrangements successfully. I know they can make this work.

Secondly, we are now strong enough as an organisation to be able to take on this additional role.

Our Patient First programme has created an environment in which it is front-line staff who identify and drive through improvement.

We have a committed and highly-skilled workforce whose own leadership abilities now enable us to release some of our team’s time to focus on Brighton.

Thirdly, helping others is an important means of helping ourselves.

Our trust is not an island and having stronger partners around us is hugely positive for our own standards of care.

Improved Accident and Emergency services in Brighton, for example, would help reduce pressure on our own A&Es.

Patients in West Sussex will also benefit from improved specialist services, provided by BSUH.

And finally, we already have in place a clear clinical strategy that gives us a set of key priorities we can use to measure how well we are keeping our collective eye on the ball.

So, for Western Sussex it will be about maintaining our Outstanding levels of performance through the ongoing development of our Patient First improvement programme, working to join-up services in our area, and maximising the opportunities emerging from ongoing improvement at BSUH.

We regularly update our 7,000 members on what and how we are doing, so if you would like to be kept in the picture too, please join us at www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk/members

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