Staying ‘Fit for the Future’
19 March 2012
While politicians and the media continue to focus on the travails of the Government's Health and Social Care Bill, the focus for NHS chief executives like myself as we prepare to enter a new financial year on 1 April remains enhancing quality while at the same time reducing costs.
Here at Chelsea and Westminster we launched our Fit for the Future programme in March 2010 to improve the quality of patient care and deliver significant efficiency savings.
This was a strategic decision taken in anticipation of two key challenges—the economic downturn, which we correctly predicted would have a dramatic impact on both the public and private sectors, and the need for the NHS in North West London to save £1 billion by 2016.
Thanks to the commitment of all staff, we achieved cost savings of £22.6 million (10%) in 2010/11 and we are on track to achieve further savings of £19.7 million (9%) in 2011/12 as the financial year draws to a close.
But at the same time we have maintained and indeed improved quality, as demonstrated by our performance in the Dr Foster Hospital Guide—published at the end of last year—which rated us as the best acute hospital in England for mortality rates and by patient surveys which consistently demonstrate high levels of patient satisfaction with our services.
Financially things will continue to be tough over the next 12 months as the Trust Board of Directors has agreed a further cost savings target of 16.2 million (8%) for 2012/13.
We are still in negotiation with the commissioners of NHS services in North West London to agree our activity levels for 2012/13 and, in the current funding environment, these negotiations are extremely challenging.
I believe that our planned, strategic three-year programme of enhancing quality while making cost savings on a scale that many other NHS organisations have struggled to match was the correct approach.
I recognise how challenging it has been for all staff to be asked to make such large efficiencies at the same time as patients' expectations of the NHS continue to grow but our approach has enabled us to retain the financial stability that has underpinned our success and invest in improvements.
I would like to thank all staff for helping us to achieve efficiency savings to date and to ask for your support in continuing this work over the next 12 months.
Key to the success of the Fit for the Future approach has been open, honest and transparent communication from the top down because it is only by communicating clearly with staff that we can explain what we are doing and why.
I am therefore delighted that we expect the results of the NHS Staff Survey, due to be published by the Care Quality Commission tomorrow (Tuesday 20 March), will show further improvement in our communication between senior management and staff.
Communication can only work if it is two-way, with senior management listening to staff and empowering staff to think differently and articulate their ideas to improve the way we do things.
And so I am looking forward to being part of next month's judging panel for the first round of our new Directors' Den initiative which encourages staff to submit ideas to improve the quality and efficiency of our services—the winners will be given funding to implement their projects.
A desire to do things differently to improve the quality of patient care and save money has also been essential.
For example, we are working in collaboration with our partner hospitals on the Fulham Road—the Royal Marsden and Royal Brompton—to develop shared services. Our new joint contract for 'soft' facilities management services was highly commended in a major national procurement awards scheme last week.
Chelsea and Westminster is also a key partner in the North West London Integrated Care Pilot, which is working to provide better integrated care for people living with diabetes and older people, and in the new Academic Health Science Partnership for North West London with Imperial College London and other healthcare providers.
These initiatives all focus on improving quality and value for money.
And finally, I hope staff and patients will take the time to nominate individuals and teams of staff for our new Chelsea and Westminster Star Awards as the deadline for nominations approaches at the end of this week.
You can nominate online and the deadline for your nominations is this Friday 23 March.
I welcome your comments on my blog —please do get in touch with me via our Head of Communications Matt Akid firstname.lastname@example.org. My next blog entry will be on 2 April.