New Mid Yorkshire Hospitals chief reiterates ambition for trust to be rated 'outstanding' by CQC
The new chief of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has reiterated the organisation's ambition to be officially recognised as 'outstanding'.
Len Richards took over the running of Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospitals in October, following the retirement of his predecessor, Martin Barkley.
Mr Barkley said in a 2019 interview that he wanted the trust, which runs all three sites, to be given the top rating by the health regulator "within three years", though that was before the Covid pandemic.
The trust is currently graded 'requires improvement' following its last inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2018.
Asked if 'outstanding' was still the trust's ambition, Mr Richards replied: "Absolutely.
"We want to provide excellent services for patients.
"Outstanding would be where we want to be. Our population would want to see that too."
With 35 years experience in healthcare, Mr Richards joined Mid Yorkshire from an NHS trust in Cardiff.
He's also previously worked in The Wirral, London and in Queensland, Australia, among many other places.
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Richards said he'd enjoyed a warm welcome at Mid Yorkshire in his early weeks and that he sensed it was a "progressive place to work".
He added: "The challenges here are the same as they are across the NHS at the moment.
"The impact of the pandemic and challenge of trying to respond to the demand we currently face (is the main one).
"We still have Covid and we still have a small number of Covid patients within the hospital, though that’s not the demand issue that it was."
Mr Richards said it would take "some time" to clear the huge backlog in non-emergency surgery that's built up post-pandemic.
He said the trust's workforce was "tired" and had "been through a lot". Admissions to A&E also remain extremely high.
He explained: "It’s not just people working more slowly, it's people working to make sure they’re Covid-ready, making sure we wash down in theatres in a particular way between cases.
"That often means people having to change PPE before they go back in.
"There's been real changes in the way we operate which means it's taking longer to do things in that scheduled care environment.
"What we’ve got to do is find ways of increasing capacity and productivity. We’ve got a programme to do so, but activity is not yet back to what it was in pre-Covid times."
With a nationwide shortage of healthcare staff coming through the training system, there are concerns over how the NHS will cope in the short and medium term.
The new hospital chief said Mid Yorkshire had to make itself appealing to young apprentices and cited the success of a nursing school in Dewsbury as an example.
The school feeds graduates to both Mid Yorkshire and the hospitals in Bradford.
Mr Richards said: "All organisations are fishing in the same pond for staff. We get our fair share, but we'd like to get more than our fair share.
"As an employer, part of our strategy is to make sure that the environment in Mid Yorkshire is better than in other places.
"We need to make ourselves more attractive to our local communities and give them that training and expertise so they can practice at the level we need them to.
"This organisation has done that, reached out and done some great things and we’re now reaping the benefits from that."
Local Democracy Reporting Service