Feedback LETTER OF THE WEEK

Published: 06/01/2005, Volume II5, No. 5937 Page 20

John Ryan, former chair, Bradford Teaching Hospitals foundation trust

As many people will testify, for the past four-and-a-half years I have chaired Bradford Teaching Hospitals foundation trust, and the diverse community it serves, with undoubted success. I always ensured that maintaining the high standards of care, and meeting the needs of the increasing number of patients cared for year-on-year, was at the heart of everything we did.

Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke's Hospital remain some of the best-performing in the NHS. But it is their future that concerns me the most. As Foundation Trust Network director Sue Slipman said recently, Bradford is just one of a number of other foundation trusts that is facing difficulties - mostly caused by external factors. Closer to home, the severe financial situations facing all other trusts in west Yorkshire have also been well covered in the media.

The hospitals are not failing organisations, they remain successful. They are already back on track towards solving the problems facing them. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate.

Financially, the tide has been turned in relation to the rate of overspend in the first half of the year. This is a positive change which will be built on further when the full potential of efficiencies - including the centralisation of more services at Bradford Royal Infirmary - are realised. Monitor's assertion that it is neither credible nor adequate fall short of any justification.

Inroads are being made to improve relations in the local health community. It would be wrong for anyone to run away with the idea that the trust and its board cannot sort out these relationships.

With a recovery plan in place, and being implemented with success, there is little left for Monitor to take issue over.

There also seems to be confusion among people outside of the trust of what the role of chair entails. He or she is not there to 'broker' deals, but to direct, lead and support the trust's officers in achieving financial stability.

I have no doubt that the skills and expertise and hard work that I have witnessed over the past fourand-a-half years will carry forward the momentum that has been created, and propel the trust through its current difficulties. I very much hope to be back playing a key role when - not if - this happens.