The question ‘What do you want to be remembered for?’ can help focus managers on long term outcomes rather than short term challenges during the upheaval of reform, says Peter Homa.

Recently someone I have known for many years died unexpectedly and prematurely. The sense of loss and the knowledge that the ecology of our relationship will never be the same is unifying and bewildering. Rob’s tributes celebrate a much loved husband, father, uncle, brother and friend. 

Reflecting on this reminded me of a question that an inspirational primary school teacher asked my 1960s inner London class: what do you want to be remembered for? 

Along with my classmates I did not do justice to the question then but it is one that I reflect on from time to time. One of life’s gifts is to have great teachers and this primary school provided them in abundance.

Amid the tumultuous challenges and opportunities of today’s NHS, it is important for managers to consider what they will be remembered for. This helps focus on both today and the long term. We have to manage today and learn from yesterday to help create a better future and legacy for patients and staff. 

Our challenge at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is to be the best acute teaching trust in England by 2016. The work to which we contribute every day has a bearing on this, but only if we also succeed in not losing sight of the bigger picture.

We have to look at where our services are now and where we want them to be in the years to come if we are to achieve our vision.

The legacy we leave for our hospitals has come to the fore in recent times. In this Olympic year, history will be made in our small corner of the world. People will perhaps judge us not only on our sporting success, but also on our qualities as a host nation.

In January it was announced that Nottingham University Hospitals will be part of the Olympic legacy. We have joined with a small group of NHS trusts and universities to establish a centre of excellence in sport exercise medicine teaching, research and practice.

Clinicians and researchers will collaborate to treat exercise related injuries and also help people use physical activity to cope with existing medical conditions, such as diabetes.

What an opportunity this brings. This is a legacy that will remain long after the last Olympic race has been run and the last gold medal awarded. We will look back and celebrate the foresight and vision that allowed the creation of something that will continue to change the way we think about modern healthcare long into the future.

By the time this legacy is in place, NUH will be operational as one of the first major trauma centres outside of London. This is recognition of the excellent staff we have in so many specialties at our hospitals – many of whom are leading the way in their fields.

We are pleased to take on this additional important responsibility, knowing many more lives will be saved as a result. It will take some time for the entire network to come on line, but evidence shows that creating a hub and spoke network for major trauma supported by the ambulance service will lead to 20 per cent more people with severe injuries being saved every year.

At our trust we have also unveiled plans to create a new state of the art cystic fibrosis unit – setting a new benchmark for the way in which patients are cared for. Again, this provides an opportunity for us to look to the future, ensuring we provide continuously improving care for our patients.

The aim is that this centre will be a “home at hospital”, where new technology is embedded into the building from the start and where the design and layout allows patients to remain in close touch with family, friends and peers. 

We are working with the Nottingham Hospitals Charity on this fundraising campaign. And of course, our patients will work with us along the way to ensure we are providing facilities that meet each of their needs.

Each manager, whatever their role, creates an organisational legacy. What do you want to be remembered for?