This month’s meeting was opened with a welcome to two new non executive director (NED) Board members, Tony Rice and Rob
Whiteman. Both were appointed from 21 February 2014. The Board also welcomed Jill Foster, interim director of nursing, who joined at
the beginning of March.
During the meeting, the Chair also thanked Sue Rubenstein, who is stepping down as a non-executive director, for her work and valuable
contribution to the Trust over the last three years.
Chair of Whittington Health
I would like to hear your thoughts
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Patient story….as told by stroke patient, David
Flory Mathie and Melissa Webber from Islington REACH Intermediate Care Team introduced David to the Board. REACH is a
an integrated health and social care team specialising in the care of older adults.
David suffered a stroke in 2013. After initial treatment at the Royal Free Hospital, he was referred to the team for assessment
and transferred to Mildmay Park Intermediate Care Unit for rehabilitation. When he first arrived, David needed to walk with a frame
and was experiencing dizziness. Working with the multidisciplinary team, he set a number of goals, including being able to wash
and dress independently and manage one flight of stairs on his own. After six weeks at the unit, the team and David were pleased with
his progress - he had achieved the majority of his goals and could walk unaided upstairs.
David told the Board that he welcomed the tranquil setting of Mildmay. He described it: “Like home, but with support. People
were always around to support you.” David was helped to go home by the same team and live independently. Thanks to the team, he
said he was able "to return to a more or less normal life."
The Board heard that we've been reviewing our complaints process, recognising our response times have not been
good enough. A new process has been put in place to support the aim of people being called within 24 hours of making the
complaint and to clear the complaints outstanding. Every three months, complaints are being pulled together by themes to identify
trends and feedback to patients and staff on the action we are taking.
One area being improved is our response times for people wanting to change their outpatient appointment. After receiving a number of
complaints, we are introducing a new single call centre to give a better service to patients.
Complaint handling - which was highlighted as part of the Francis Report - remains a key priority for the Board. It reinforced the
message that it's important to encourage people to complain.
Finance and planning update
The Chief Finance Officer Simon Wombwell told the Board that he was forecasting a break even position for the end of
the financial year but the Trust would have to maintain a tight rein on its finances to balance the books by the end of
We are still in the process of negotiating contracts for next year with our commissioners. It's hoped that, with further
budget planning and when contracts are finalised, we will have to find no more than £15m savings (5%) or additional income
for 2014/15. The Trust had been working on savings plans since December, so far around £11m had been identified through
transformation and effficiency projects as well as services delivering two per cent savings.
The Trust recently submitted a two year plan for the organisation to the NHS Trust Development Agency (TDA). This set
out the business strategy and direction for the Trust over the next two years.
The Board discussed the work that is now underway to develop and submit a five-year plan (April 2014 to March 2019) to the TDA in June
2014. The plan will set out how the organisation will ensure sustainability of the organisation, look at redesigning pathways for the
benefit of patients and how we can improve productivity.
Smoking and pregnancy
There has been a sharp improvement in the number of Whittington Health mums-to-be smoking at the time of delivery. The
Board recognised the achievement and the significant health benefit for women and their babies. Latest figures showed 3.5 per cent of
mums in January were smokers compared to 6.2 per cent in November.
This Board asked for more information to understand how this had been achieved
As part of the Chief Executive's Report, the Board heard that Whittington Heath continued to have the lowest
mortality rate in England, according to the latest Standardised Hospital Mortality Indicator (SHMI). Latest figures published in
February by the Health and Social Care Information Centre for July 2012 to June 2013 show our SHMI was 0.63, an 11.9 per cent
improvement compared to the previous year. The SHMI is a ratio of the observed versus expected number of deaths in hospital
or within 30 days of discharge. The SHMI is recalculated every three months and looks at mortality over a one year
period. However, the Board noted that we must not be complacent and look at the lessons to be learnt from Sir Bruce Keogh's
report last year into hospitals with high mortality rates.