Sir Julian Hartley visits East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

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30 June 2023

Julian Hartley
Chief Executive

This visit underlined to me the power of improvement in responding to the many and varied pressures trust leaders face. I was struck by the sense of connection between executives and frontline teams, and the close integration between acute and community services and with system partners. It’s hard to overstate the importance and value of this in today’s NHS. It was inspiring to meet colleagues in so many roles who were proud to work here to support their community, mindful of the opportunity the trust has as an anchor institution to improve the lives of local people and tackle inequalities.  

I’m a strong believer in the benefits of improvement methodology, and it was heartening to see the way colleagues are empowered to develop and deliver solutions to some of the most challenging and complex healthcare issues.

Walking around Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, it was good to see at first-hand how the trust handles patient flow pressures while working to maintain quality. This includes ensuring rapid handover from ambulances, with community colleagues supporting prompt and effective triage at the front door. We saw the key role of ambulatory care in treating patients who don’t need to be admitted, and additional capacity in the acute medical ward, purpose-built for a better environment. The trust’s award-winning virtual ward scheme also eases pressures on the hospital while providing patients with safe and convenient care at home.  

Talking to colleagues, it was clear that they take great pride in the quality of care provided. This was summed up for me by a member of the critical care team, who told me they often ask themselves the question: “Would it be good enough for your mother? If not, it’s not good enough.”   

This quest for improvement and innovation has helped the trust make strong headway on many of the key performance metrics, including ambulance handover delays, four-hour A&E waits, and eradicating 104- and 78-week elective lists. Performance against the urgent two-hour community response target is 98%. Patient and colleague survey feedback is positive, with the trust rated as one of the best to work at in the northwest.   

There is much to be proud of, but I was also struck by the desire to aim higher, expand capacity and do more for patients. The trust and its system partners face all-too-familiar financial pressures and the need to deliver savings. Here, as in so many places I visit, the challenge is to reconcile quality and performance challenges with those financial imperatives.

The strong improvement culture at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust provides firm foundations for the future. I encourage the leadership and senior leader team here to keep faith with this approach as they continue to deliver safe, personal and effective care, collaborating with partners, providing system and place-based leadership and offering a great service for the community. 

About the author

Julian Hartley profile picture

Julian Hartley
Chief Executive

Sir Julian Hartley joined as chief executive in February 2023, having been chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals since 2013, where he led a major programme of culture change and staff engagement to deliver improved quality, operational and financial performance.

Julian’s career in the NHS began as a general management trainee and he worked in a number of posts before progressing to a board director appointment at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust.

In 2019 Julian was asked to be the executive lead for the interim NHS People Plan, having previously worked as managing director of NHS Improving Quality, and in 2022 he was awarded Knight Bachelor for services to healthcare in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Read more

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