‘Quality care’ is priority of new hospitals chief

THE new head of the biggest hospitals trust in Yorkshire has vowed to ensure patient care is the utmost priority, while warning of the challenges it faces to meet demands for savings.

Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Julian Hartley is about to take over as chief executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the latest new appointment at the organisation.

Speaking at the annual general meeting, West Yorkshire-born Mr Hartley said: “I’m very excited about the opportunities that the trust has, but realistic about some of the challenges.”

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Attendees to the event at the Thackray Museum in Leeds heard the hospitals trust had undergone significant changes in the past financial year, but faced more tough targets in the current year.

Hospital bosses are facing a demand to make savings of £40m by next April.

“We face a range of challenges and the NHS faces huge challenges,” Mr Hartley said. “I am determined that we work together on that – first and foremost by making sure that the quality of patient care and treatment is at the heart of everything we do.”

Developing research and innovation and working with other health bodies in a pioneering integrated care pilot were among his plans for the hospitals, he said.

He added he was “delighted” to be back in his home county.

“I am from Bingley, but I’ve never worked in West Yorkshire. It’s great to be back in Leeds.”

And he told the audience, of members of the public and health workers, he would need their support to make a success of the job.

“I will do my utmost to serve you as best I can in this job,” he added.

Earlier trust chairman Linda Pollard said improvements during 2012/13 included increasing staff in A&E after a national target was missed.

“Staffing is being improved in many frontline services,” she added.

Physical improvements included the creation of a new paediatric intensive care unit at LGI and a major upgrade of electrical systems.

Mrs Pollard reiterated that the quality of services was paramount.

“The quality agenda has raised to the top and that demands for us to stop being old-fashioned and working with new methods, as demanded by the public – and quite rightly so.”

Neil Chapman, director of finance, said the trust had ended the last financial year with a surplus of £1.5m, from a £1bn annual budget. However this was not the £10m surplus required to achieve gold-standard foundation trust status.

Mr Chapman, who was at his last annual meeting as he is leaving the trust after 15 years, was given a standing ovation by members of his team and praised by fellow board members.

Hospital bosses also took questions from the public, including from Derek Hutchinson, of Kirkstall, Leeds.

He asked about the possibility of compensation for invasive brain surgery he was subject to at LGI in the 1970s.

The new chief executive passed on his sympathies and promised to look into the situation.

The importance of listening to patients when making changes to services and working more closely with carers was also raised.