‘Now we need stable leadership’

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“Stable leadership” is the priority at West Herts Hospitals, after the Gazette met new chief executive Katie Fisher for an exclusive interview.

Mrs Fisher spoke to this newspaper on Friday, just six weeks after taking up the reins.

But while she is under no doubts about the challenges leading a trust that is in special measures, she also praised the numerous positives that she has already encountered.

Mrs Fisher said: “What we need is stable leadership. The trust and the staff need a bit of love and someone who is on their side, so that we can do our best.

“I know that sounds cheesy but I don’t make any apologies for that. We’ll take the best of what we have and use it to inspire everyone to improve.”

She added: “One of the most striking aspects is how committed our staff are. It’s been a very bruising experience for them since the trust was put into special measures, but the vast majority of staff still take a great deal of pride in trying to provide the best possible care for all patients.

“Then there are outcomes which perhaps we haven’t been so good at shouting about in the past. West Herts Hospitals have the 11th best mortality rates in the country. That’s been a real focus over the last three years.

“We’ve had no MRSA bacteremia this year, and we’ve had no Grade 4 pressure ulcer acquisition over the last 18 months while Grade 3 are down 80 per cent.”

While this is Mrs Fisher’s first chief executive role, she has worked as a director in the NHS for the past 13 years.

Her previous employer was the Royal Free Hospital in north London, most recently as director of service transformation, a role which gave her executive responsibility for Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield.

The biggest story for health campaigners in 2016 has been the Your Care, Your Future review of the future of healthcare in the region.

Patients have even drawn up their own proposals for a brand new hospital, equidistant from West Herts’ current sites in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Tring.

While Mrs Fisher was careful not to take a view which could prejudice the review she did acknowledge the need for reform, with investment of £110million needed to simply maintain the current buildings over the next five years.

She said: “We will need to deliver big changes, but that’s about pathways of care as well as buildings.”