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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Barrow hospital's nursing chief’s pledge to learn from past

A NEW boss at the NHS trust which runs Furness General Hospital has described the pain of watching the organisation where she started her career face a series of high-profile problems.

Sue Smith started work as executive chief nurse at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust this month, a move she likens to “coming home”.

The 51-year-old began her nursing career at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and worked across all the trust’s sites. At Furness General Hospital specifically, she helped fight the outbreak of legionnaires’ disease in 2002.

On leaving UHMBT in 2003, Mrs Smith went on to enjoy success at senior management level in Coventry and Nottingham.

Of her most recent role at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Mrs Smith said: “If it hadn’t been Morecambe Bay I wouldn’t have left because I was very, very happy. But I always said if Morecambe Bay came up, I would want to go for it. Because home is where the heart is.”

Mrs Smith plans to use her good relationships with her former employers, and with chief nurses of other trusts, to promote cross-organisational working.

Among her challenges will be helping the trust, like all NHS organisations, make major financial savings.

Mrs Smith replaces former executive chief nurse, Jackie Holt, who stepped down in June. At the time, the trust said it would pay her £109,730 salary for 12 months while she worked at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. That deal later fell through. A UHMBT spokesman this week said there is nothing the trust can add to its previous statement, when bosses said they were still trying to arrange a secondment.

Taking over from Mrs Holt, Mrs Smith becomes one of the most powerful figures on the UHMBT board, a complete overhaul of which is now almost complete.

The team has been revamped following a number of serious failings in maternity care at FGH.

Mrs Smith said: “It really, really hurts to see that happen to the organisation which, in a way, is like your first love. I felt very, very sad.

“It’s really hard to read such negative press about an organisation when you know that’s not the full story. It’s horrible when you know somewhere is full of so many good people.”

Mrs Smith is now keen to help the new trust board continue to build on major improvements in safety and quality.

She said: “What went wrong here went wrong very, very significantly. For those families, we can’t undo what happened. What we can do is make sure the learning is really deeply embedded and make sure we never lose responsibility for what happened.

“This board is amazing, so patient-focused, so safety focused. Jackie (Daniel, UHMBT chief executive) has gathered around her the exact people and experience she needs to put Morecambe Bay on the map for all the right reasons, and we’re going to help her deliver that reputation as quickly as we can.”

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