Heatherwood boss: 'Clinical performance is at heart of our plan'By Mike Pyle
March 16, 2010
In an exclusive interview with getbracknell, Julie Burgess, chief executive of Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust answers critics and reveals the facts behind an ambitious turnaround plan to reporter Mike Pyle.
The chief executive of troubled Heatherwood Hospital has reaffirmed her commitment to the hospital which serves Bracknell and has said that “very, very few” jobs will be lost as a plan to ease financial troubles is brought in.
And Julie Burgess says the programme to reduce a huge deficit is going to plan.
She also gave a commitment that clinical performance is paramount in answer to a letter of concern signed by a group of hospital docors which getbracknell revealed last week.
When Julie took her post overseeing the Ascot and Slough hospitals last year the trust was looking at a £20 million deficit.
Since then a ‘turnaround plan’ has been drawn up and implemented and that deficit has already been cut to £9.9 million as this financial year ends.
Julie said: “We are on track.
“That’s a really positive thing because that’s what we’ve said we would do and we’re on the nail with it.
“We have a plan to bring the trust back into balance in three years and there will be a surplus from March 2011 onwards – it’s a plan also based on bringing us into the top 15 per cent of clinical performers in the country.”
The trust’s clinical services are rated as ‘fair’ by the Care Quality Commission – a rating that fell from ‘excellent’ in 2006/7 and ‘good’ in 2007/8.
Last week getbracknell published details from a letter signed by around 50 doctors and consultants at the trust who support the new board and had heard that as part of the turnaround plan inpatient beds could be reduced by 40 per cent and felt that would impact on clinical quality.
But Julie said: “This is a plan that has clinical performance at the heart of it.
“I’ve been adamant that when we do this we don’t just ‘cut, cut, cut’.
“It’s about looking at patient pathways and patient experience and making sure patients don’t spend any more time in hospital than they have to, and that means making sure we are efficient and that we do as much as we can without needing patients to have overnight stays.
“As we become more efficient we will see bed numbers reduced but that’s only because we will need fewer beds to provide the same services.”
Julie confirmed that as the plan goes forward the trust will need fewer members of staff than it had when she joined but scotched reports that as many as 300 jobs could go saying “there is no magic number”.
She added: “As we develop our services we will we will look at the total number of staff we need.
“We currently have a lot of vacancies – although posts will go, a lot of them will be ones that are currently vacant.
“Temporary staffing will be the next area we tackle.
“It means the actual number of staff who will lose their jobs will be very, very few.”
Concerns have been raised by employees and union leaders that as the process continues people are not getting enough information but Julie said: “We try hard to connect with staff and hear from people and know what they think.
“Staff can email me and we hold open house meetings with staff on both sites that are advertised an anyone can come to.”
Julie also rejected concerns that Wexham Park Hospital in Slough is a bigger priority for the trust than Heatherwood.
In the past two years services including accident and emergency, emergency heart attack and stroke care and some maternity facilities have been moved from Ascot to Slough.
Julie said: “The message is that the trust is committed to Heatherwood because it is a big part of its future.
“It’s a question of trust – and trust can only build up over time.”