11 September 2017 CEO Blog post

Back to school

The hospital has a ‘back to school’ feeling this week. Summer is over and ‘have you had a nice holiday’ is being replaced with debates about putting the heating on at home.

By the time you read this you may have heard we have been shortlisted in the HSJ Awards as Provider Trust of the Year. Being shortlisted in the equivalent of the health oscars is a brilliant achievement all the staff should be really proud of.

It made me reflect on why we bother to enter things like this? Why do we bother to celebrate success?

For me its simple. If we can’t see what we do well, and importantly understand why, we can’t learn when things don’t go as well. With our responsibilities to patients this is not a nice to do but a must do.

Being an NHS CEO is an interesting job. On the same day I heard we had been shortlisted (high) I was told something had gone wrong and we had harmed a patient (mega low). How should I react? I am angry for the patient, I am angry for the hospital, I am sad, upset, even disappointed.  

Then I reflected over a strong coffee. This is an opportunity to learn, BUT, we will only do that if we enable an environment to do that. So, despite my own fear of interfering I popped to see the manager of the area involved. She was upset, tearful. I simply asked her one thing, the one thing I had been asked years ago when I messed up: “Are we looking after you?”

The recriminations, the guilt, the learning…. that will all come. For now we need to care. We need to care for our staff and that poorly patient. We both had a little cry. Five minutes out of my week. Possibly the most important five minutes.

Honestly, I don’t care if we win the award. It really doesn’t matter. What we will do is understand why we are doing well enough to be shortlisted. We will celebrate that.

I care much more that we are the kind of place that continues to learn. We remember how good we are and that is because our people are so good. We also remember we can always do better.

The patient is (hopefully) on the mend. For the staff it will take much longer. We will support them, care for them and help them and us learn.

We really are back to school. 


Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

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