Annual Report 2003-2004

Welcome message from David Law, Chief Executive

A Clear Way Forward in West Hertfordshire

We now have a clear way forward in West Hertfordshire. The recent announcement of the Government's approval of the redevelopment of Watford Hospital marks a watershed for the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Years of indecision about the future of services in West Hertfordshire are at an end. We have a strong sense of direction that will unify the Trust in the purpose of providing the best acute services we can for the communities that we serve.

I have worked in West Hertfordshire for six years and know that our consultant body strongly supports the changes that we will now be working through and putting into place. The proposals produced in Investing in Your Health provide an excellent framework for health services in the area.

It is important, however, to note that the redevelopment of Watford is one important part of a much wider set of service changes. We will be working closely with colleagues in primary care to make radical changes to the way in which services are delivered. New services will be developed in the community and in primary care settings. We will continue, as a Trust, to provide a service for the whole of the West Herts population, with important developments taking place at Hemel Hempstead and at St Albans. 

The surgi-centre at Hemel Hempstead will provide for all of our day case surgery and most of our planned orthopaedic surgery. Hemel Hempstead will also be a centre for outpatient and diagnostic services, for intermediate care and for primary care focused services, as well as retaining an A&E department.

The planning work that we will need to do to bring forward these changes presents a great opportunity to engage many staff, patients and community representatives in the process of change. The Trust is an integral part of the local community and our staff are, as Rosie Sanderson our Chairwoman has said, our greatest asset. These two constituencies must have their voice heard in the development and change of services.

I will be encouraging and supporting a debate which will give staff and the local community that voice.

But the debate must be focused on achieving change and on improving the services we offer, the way in which we work with primary care and colleagues in social care. There are some very specific requirements that we will need to meet to have our business cases for these changes agreed. So we will need to combine involvement with a strong focus and determination actually to deliver change.

Whilst this work is underway, we must still deliver care and treatment to the thousands of local residents who use our services every year. We must continue to make improvements in the quality and timeliness of our services. The latest Government proposals contained in the "The NHS Improvement Plan" (June 2004) continue the agenda of making the NHS more responsive to patients. This is an agenda I welcome. All sorts of services and industries have changed dramatically in the last 20 years in this country. The public has different expectations of a major public service than was the case at the inception of the NHS.

Many of us have got used to booking holidays on the internet, or getting information we need, and prompt delivery of goods we buy. People now expect more from the NHS. They expect a personal, quick, efficient service in a good environment. That's what I want us to be able to deliver. In the vast majority of cases we do that, but there is always room for improvement.

And I place great emphasis on the personal nature of the service we provide. At its most basic level, healthcare is about an individual professional and a team working with people who either are ill, or who have cause to worry about their health.

Being a patient can make many of us feel quite vulnerable. We put our faith in the skills and knowledge of other people. As a Trust we have to ensure that our skills and knowledge are of a high standard to meet the needs of individual patients. But we must also remember that we are dealing with people who will often be feeling very anxious. They must be treated as individuals and with courtesy and compassion.

If we combine high professional standards with a personal approach we will be providing the sort of service local people want from us.

And finally, a thank you to all our staff for their continued commitment. You are "the Trust."

David Law, July 2004

Chief Executive

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