The must stories and debate in the NHS

Getting back on track

Much like the train company with which it shares its first name, Southern Health Foundation Trust has attracted a lot of criticism in the last few years.

But a new leadership team is now in place – completed by the appointment this autumn of Nick Broughton as the new chief executive.

He took up his position in November and has highlighted staff retention as one of his top priorities, in an interview with HSJ this week.

It will be a difficult task for Dr Broughton and the leadership team, particularly when it comes to newer staff as the most recent figures show one in four staff who leave the trust do so within two years of joining.

Much work is needed to rebuild confidence among the workforce in the new leadership team following the headlines that dogged previous chief exec Katrina Percy and chair Tim Smart. Dr Broughton said the damage to Southern’s brand does not help the recruitment challenge.

Staffing issues aside, Dr Broughton joins Southern at an interesting time.

There is uncertainty about the trust’s future provision of community services and it is not exactly clear what role it will play in Hampshire’s Better Local Care vanguard.

As one of England’s biggest mental health and community trusts, Southern is well placed to play a key role in shaping the new models of care and structural changes facing the health economy.

Precisely which direction the organisation chooses to move in remains to be seen, but hopefully the new leadership can steer Southern away from trouble.

Pennine problems

A major acute trust’s IT systems, including a system introduced in 2015 to “revolutionise” its patient records, are set to be overhauled and replaced in the new year.

A review of the data systems at Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust has “indicated significant issues and risks” around the stability and suitability of its IT infrastructure.

The trust’s leadership was taken over by Salford Royal Foundation Trust last year and the organisations are working together in NHS Digital’s global digital exemplar programme.

This is likely to involve Salford Royal’s electronic patient record, provided by Allscripts, being rolled out to Pennine’s hospitals from next year.

In 2011, Pennine upgraded its patient administration systems and added an application called Health Views, which pulls together information from different systems. This work was commissioned from Australian technology company iSoft, which was purchased that year by American firm CSC.

In 2015, the trust added Kainos Evolve, an electronic document record management system, using £4.2m of funding from NHS England. The trust said this would “revolutionise and improve the way thousands of patient records are stored”.

However, a report to the trust board last month said Evolve had been installed with “financial constraints” and staff had reported problems accessing records.