Sir Julian Hartley visits King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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01 December 2023

Julian Hartley
Chief Executive

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, a leading teaching trust in London, and it's almost 15,000 staff serves a diverse patient population across deprived and affluent urban and suburban areas. Its commitment to excellence includes community engagement, renowned specialists and groundbreaking, globally impactful research.

Upon arrival at the Hambleden Wing, I was greeted by Clive Kay, the trust chief executive and the wider executive team. They provided insights into the trust’s significant challenges and the innovative ways it addresses these, particularly in enhancing patient experience. In October, in partnership with Guy's and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, it introduced Epic, an EPR programme offering a comprehensive view of patient care. This transformative technology, spanning multiple sites, streamlines the secure transfer of patient data and ensures medical staff can access critical information instantly, irrespective of care location. 


Dr Caroline Elston, Medical director for the trust’s Denmark Hill site shared details about the Modernising Medicine programme, which started in 2019 but was delayed by the pandemic. The programme aims to revamp the delivery of acute and emergency medical care for patients’ benefit. It has two core aspects: reimagining staffing models and resource allocation for care delivery, as well as upgrading estates and facilities. An outpatient facility in the Golden Jubilee wing is in the works for summer 2025, set to become an acute assessment unit with 40 medical beds and 20 assessment trolleys, increasing efficiency and expediting patient flow.

Bernadette Thompson, director of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), emphasised the central role of EDI at King’s. The trust positions the EDI director role at board level, underscoring the importance of integrating EDI principles into every facet of operations, with the aim that EDI becomes embedded in organisational culture. The ultimate goal is for EDI leads to “do themselves out of a job” by making sure everyone, at all levels, is talking about inclusion.  

Dr Dan Wilson, clinical director for acute specialty medicine guided me through the acute medicine wards, explaining how the trust revamped staffing rotas following a successful pandemic trial period. A decision to have more consultants on weekends led to better patient care; 16 new consultants joined to maintain this standard. 

I was shown new intensive therapy units by Mick Dowling, head of nursing for critical care. Spread across two floors, the lower unit is already open, while the upper unit opens next month. Patients have their own room with glass walls so that staff can see them from wherever they are in the ward. I was fascinated by news of the hospital’s planned ‘roof garden’ (an outdoor intensive care unit) in 2024; it’s the first trust in England to do this. Doctors hope the £1.6million project, funded largely through the hospital’s charity, will help critically ill people recover more quickly. 

In the endoscopy department, clinical director for liver, gastroenterology, upper GI and endoscopy Dr Bu Hayee highlighted that King’s is the only trust providing groundbreaking endoscopic obesity treatment approved by the the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Dr Hayee trains clinicians across the country to perform this elective procedure, achieving outcomes closely aligned with clinical trial results. 

I left King’s deeply impressed by its remarkable achievements and ongoing commitment to patient care, despite unprecedented challenges facing the healthcare sector. The passion and hard work of staff is truly commendable. In addition to this, Clive’s leadership over the past four years has clearly played a significant role in these accomplishments. 

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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