The new chief executive of West Suffolk Hospital has categorically ruled out further privatisation of its services in his quest to give the area an ‘outstanding hospital’.
Stephen Dunn, a former NHS regional director for the south of England, stepped into his new role in November last year, taking over from previous incumbent Stephen Graves.
Despite looming financial challenges and increased demand on services, Mr Dunn believes that with his ‘track record of success’ he can boost the award-winning facilities even higher.
In an interview with the Bury Free Press, he said: “West Suffolk Hospital faces some big challenges over the next few years and we need to be clear about its future role.
“I’m not into bureaucracy, I’m into action. I have a track record of working through big challenges, of delivery and innovation.
“It’s an opportunity to bring that to my local community to ensure we have an outstanding hospital in Bury St Edmunds.”
Over the past year the hospital’s forecasted £8 million deficit from 2014/15 has dropped to £5.5 million, despite a difficult winter which included a £222,000 spend on agency staff.
However, in spite of continuing pressures Mr Dunn has firmly ruled out the privatisation of hospital services.
“Neither I nor the board have any plans to outsource or privatise any aspects of what we do,” he said.
“The only way we can address some of the challenges is closer working with primary, community and social care.”
Mr Dunn has visited surgeries in Stowmarket, Woolpit and Newmarket to see how current services operate.
“We need to build up relationships with outside partners so the public don’t see the links between different bodies,” he said.
“If we can treat people in the community and at home by working closely with GPs, community and social services, the hospital can operate in a way allows us to improve its financial position.”
Now living in Norton with his wife and children, Mr Dunn said he had been working ‘pretty much 24/7’.
He has shadowed staff in many hospital departments, including a night shift with the senior medical doctor, the porters and kitchen staff, and its accident and emergency department.
He said: “I’m a great believer in the power of teams. If I understand the pressures people are under, I can lead appropriately.”
With 40 vacancies to fill at the hospital, employing more staff is also on the agenda.
Mr Dunn said: “We’re looking to attract nurses back into practice, to increase our nurse recruitment overseas, and to bring in more nurses in the short term and make sure they chose to stay here.”
A potential hospital strategy for the next three to five years was launched last Friday and will be presented to staff, stakeholders and board members in the coming months.