Staff satisfaction key to top rating for our hospitals: Trust boss

By David Spereall
Local Democracy Reporter

THE man at the head of Dewsbury, Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals says he wants them to be collectively classed as outstanding by 2022.

Martin Barkley, chief executive of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said the organisation could be recognised as one of the country’s best within three years if further improvements are made.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the trust, as “requires improvement” last year but recognised substantial progress in a number of areas since its previous inspection in 2017.

Mr Barkley said developing staff satisfaction in the hospitals was the key to improving all aspects of healthcare.

Asked how long he believed it would take for the trust to achieve the top rating from the health watchdog, Mr Barkley said: “My ambition is three years from now. 

“I’m really confident that with the great staff we’ve got here, we can achieve it.

“The sort of loyalty and committment they have, despite all the difficulties there have been, is absolutely humbling.

“If we can support them better and empower them better, it will lead us to achieve that rating of ‘oustanding’.”

He said year-on-year improvement in the staff satisfaction survey was one of the things he was most pleased about after three years in charge of the trust.

He added: “All the evidence in the western world is that the quality of patient experience is inextricably linked to staff experience. 

“So improving staff experience will help us retain staff and recruit staff. All of this will benefit patients, which is what it’s all about.”

Mr Barkley celebrated 25 years in NHS management this week. In an era where the health service is widely believed to be chronically underfunded, he said that new medical advances and artificial intelligence were reasons to be optimistic about its future.

He also said that a nationally dwindling workforce was a bigger problem than cash.

“Vacancies, I think, will be a more limiting factor than money going forward,” he added.

“The recruitment gaps in nursing staff first appeared around eight years ago and that gap has never been bigger than it is now.

“We have around 200 registered nurse vacancies at the moment and many other trusts are in a similar position.

“We’ve recently set up a virtual nursing school with the University of Bradford, which will start to bear fruit for us in two or three years’ time. But that’s a local solution and it still doesn’t resolve the national shortage.”

Mr Barkley said politicians were right to impose time-sensitive targets for patient care, despite NHS trusts struggling to meet several of them in the current climate, because he believes they have raised standards significantly.

He said it would be “up to the public at the ballot box” as to whether or not they want to see the NHS continue to be funded sustainably by tax, a system he wholeheartedly supports.

He added: “I’d hate to see a system, like in the United States, where people are scared to get ill.

“The NHS gives amazing value for money. Compared to almost any other health system in the world it’s the most efficient, and I think that will continue.”

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