As my last week as Chairman of ASPH draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my reflections and also to say thank you for helping make this the best job I’ve ever had!
As a member of the Board since 2005, and Chairman from 2008, I have seen enormous change - all in the right direction - as we have worked to establish ourselves as one of the top hospital trusts in the country.
We’ve had strong and consistent leadership over that time, with two Chief Executives (Andrew and Suzanne) and five of our current Executive Directors promoted from within the organisation – a real demonstration of an organisation that recognises and nurtures talent. We’ve also had long-term stability among our Non-Executive Directors, with the appointment of six new NEDs last year managed with minimal disruption.
In my role as Chairman, becoming a Foundation Trust in 2010 was a pivotal moment, and the positive relationship we have since developed with our Governors and our Members has really helped to give constructive challenge to the Board.
Most importantly, I have seen real change in our focus on delivering high quality care which is reflected in the improved reputation we have developed both locally and further afield. Across our hospitals the way we engage with patients and families is really positive and I feel very proud of the progress we’ve made.
Our values – the famous 4 Ps – have made a tangible difference to the organisation, making the Trust a more welcoming place to work and for patients and their families to visit. It has been pointed out to me that Ashford Hospital has always been a friendly place and I agree with that. However, when I first started, the proper integration of the two hospitals was only just starting and there was a great deal of upheaval particularly at Ashford. Now I feel there is a much greater sense of pride in the Trust as a whole and people feel a much greater sense of belonging.
Some really proud moments have to have been when we were shortlisted as the HSJ Provider Trust of the Year last year, and back in 2014 when our Voluntary Services received the Queen’s Award. We’ve also been a CHKS top 40 Trust four years running, won their Quality of Care award in 2015 (and shortlisted for the past two years) as well as being shortlisted for a new healthcare efficiency award this year. And our Be the Change programme won the 2017 HPMA Award for Excellence in Employee Engagement. We really are a Trust to watch!
I’m also very proud of the relationships we have built with local stakeholders and partners; while there is more work to do, working collectively will help us build a sustainable future both for ourselves and for our wider health economy.
As I have spent time reflecting on the past 12 years, one early memory came to mind. One of my first tours of the hospitals was a visit to the old West Wing at Ashford Hospital which of course was subsequently demolished. The old fashioned flowery curtains, which seemed to be everywhere, really stuck in my mind. On one of my walkabouts recently I came across an old screen where someone has kept one of those curtains – for posterity’s sake? I’m not sure, but it did make me smile.
Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone for all your well wishes; I’m definitely not retiring, just biding my time until the next venture comes along. And in the meantime, I’m very much looking forward to becoming a grandmother for the first time later on this month!
It just remains for me to wish Team ASPH the very best of luck in the future as I hand the reigns over to my successor Andy Field next week. I’m sure you will make him very welcome and I’ll continue to watch ASPH from the sidelines as you continue your upward journey.
With very best wishes,