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Southampton Business School

Making our hospitals safer and more efficient

Published: 3 June 2015
Making our hospitals safer

Strengthening links between hospitals to improve safety and efficiency; leading health service moderniser Sir David Dalton encouraged his audience to think beyond the sound bites and examine the future of acute care in the NHS at a guest lecture at the University of Southampton.


The Chief Executive of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (SRFT) spoke to staff, students and local NHS managers about his hospital’s ambition to become the safest in the land in the talk jointly organised by the Business School and Health Sciences. He outlined how he had successfully managed change, encouraging staff at all levels to share the vision of continuous improvement and make it happen, striving for higher standards and reducing costs at the same time.

Hospital safety became a significant issue in 2013 with the publication of the Francis Report. Findings from the major public inquiry into needless deaths and suffering of patients in Mid Staffordshire horrified the country and prompted calls for change. Sir Robert Francis QC pinned blame for the crisis on the failure of the Trust Board to listen to patients’ concerns and address a damaging negative culture that tolerated poor standards at a time of clinician disengagement from management and leadership.

Salford Royal is a large hospital in the north west of England, employing 6,700 staff and with an annual turnover of £460million; the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated it as ‘outstanding’. Sir David spoke of its transformation into an establishment with a culture of high reliability where the views of patients, relatives and staff are valued and people work together. Among its awards, SRFT has been in the top three for overall staff engagement for the last four years and was the best Trust for patient satisfaction in 2014-15.

He acknowledges much remains to be done across the whole NHS but believes success is achievable: “In five to ten years time, hospitals will be connected far more than they are now, both vertically with poorly performing hospitals supported by high achieving ones and horizontally, so best practice can be rolled out across a wider area, seven days a week. Patients won’t notice much difference but the system will work much better to everyone’s benefit,” he says. Sir David contributed to the Berwick Review of patient safety in 2013 and was then asked by Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, to look at new options for providing health care; the Dalton Review was published in January 2015.

The guest lecture was organised by Dr Stefan Cantore of the Business School who researches leadership and the successful management of change, along with Dr Richard Giordano and colleagues in Health Sciences. Professor Jean Chen, Business School Director, comments: “I very much enjoyed attending the event. This talk brought together academic researchers from across the University with health service practitioners, and it will be the first of many collaborations on important issues. It has also demonstrated a valuable cross-faculty collaboration between the Southampton Business School and Health Science”.


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