What Chief Executive Sloman Says - December 2005

What Chief Executive Sloman Says - December 2005

The government’s policy to provide patients with the choice officially begins in the New Year. From 1 January 2006 when a patient visits their GP they will be offered a choice of at least four hospitals in their area. Leaflets will be available giving details on each hospital, the services they provide, what patients should expect when they get there and, very importantly, what other patients who visit think of it.


With this in mind it is important that we remember the value of treating patients and visitors to the hospital with dignity and respect as this enhances the excellent medical work that is done here. I would like to echo the call made by Dr Raj Persaud during the Whittington Oration last month for each of us to remember the importance of good relationships with patients and each other. The reputation of the Whittington is largely influenced by word of mouth – one patient’s experience will affect the choices that others make about us. It is very important for all of us to make a concerted effort to uphold and improve standards of customer and patient care, so that patients choose the Whittington for their treatment.


General Practitioners will have a big influence on which hospital their patients choose to attend. Earlier in the autumn Medical Director, Celia Ingham Clark, and I began visiting the largest referring practices in Haringey and Islington. So far we’ve visited 10 practices and, on the whole, the news is good. All have noticed improvements in our services and reductions in waiting times. A number of departments, namely cardiology, respiratory, diabetes and pathology, have been praised by most, if not all, the practices for providing a first-class service, ease of access and good communication. The walk-in x-ray service has been extremely well received and the paediatric 10 -12 clinic is highly regarded.


In addition to asking GPs what they like about the hospital, we’ve also been asking about things we don’t do so well. Again, the answers have been fairly consistent and are, on the whole, areas we’re already looking at. Overall, the message we’re getting is that GPs and patients are happy with the medical and nursing care we provide but we can do better with our administrative systems and supplementary services.


In the New Year, we’re planning to visit more practices at the margins of our constituency where, due to their proximity to more than one hospital, patients have real choice as to where they are treated.


One of the tools that we have that helps patients to exercise their choice and reduce bureaucracy and administration time for both patients and staff, is the Choose and Book system, which allows patients to book directly into our services from their GP surgery. Eighty-four per cent of specialities will be available for use by the system by the end of 2005.


On Monday 14 November I received a letter from the Department of Health asking me as the Chief Executive of a two star trust when we wished to begin the foundation trust application process.    The Whittington is looking at the pros and cons of doing so.  Before making the decision as to whether to become a foundation hospital we will be having extensive discussions with all of you through staff meetings and other ways and will make the decision based on the best interests of local people and our patients.


In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and a great 2006!
Working on it!