Reflections on a year leading community services in London | Frank Sims

Frank Sims

Earlier this month, I celebrated my first anniversary as chief executive of Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust (HRCH); what better time to look back and reflect on my experience leading the organisation over the last 12 months.

When I joined HRCH, I couldn’t believe the great organisation I found and the fantastic range of community services provided to local people of all ages. Our services prevent illness and injury; keep people out of hospital and enable patients to be discharged quickly; and help people to recover from illness more effectively in their home environment.

I am extremely proud to be leading a trust that is high-performing in every area. This year, we achieved a massive improvement to our annual NHS Staff Survey results and are now rated in the top 10 per cent of all NHS organisations for staff who say the trust is a great place to work. We also have the lowest sickness absence rates of all community NHS providers nationally – a considerable achievement and a true reflection of working conditions and staff morale on the shop floor.

Over the last year, I have also witnessed big improvements to the quality of our patient care, with the key challenges we faced successfully addressed. For example, through our pressure ulcer campaign, we have steadily reduced the number of patients on our books with pressure sores. And our community nursing teams have also introduced ‘locality working’, with nursing teams based around GP localities across Hounslow and Richmond boroughs. This is improving access to services for patients, local GPs and other healthcare professionals.

I am also pleased to have seen our portfolio grow, as we’ve introduced some exciting new community services. We recently launched a new integrated, multidisciplinary rehabilitation team – the Hounslow Community Recovery Service – which is delivered in partnership with the local council in Hounslow. This is an exciting step forward for us in working with partner agencies to integrate the provision of care services, ensuring that local people are able to access the health and social care professionals they need, through a single service. 

We have been providing a similar service for residents of the London Borough of Richmond for some time – the Richmond Response and Rehab Team. I am delighted to have seen how established and successful this team has become in supporting local people to regain their independence and wellbeing after an illness, disability or following hospital discharge.

Looking to the year ahead, I want to focus on building on our excellent staff engagement, while finding ways to free up clinicians’ time. I want less bureaucracy so that clinicians can spend more time with their patients and more time helping to make decisions. 

We have also recently reviewed our trust’s strategic objectives and focused them on three areas: care, quality and responsiveness.  A major part of this is setting our sights on becoming an ‘outstanding’ organisation, and I know we will achieve this with our fantastic staff.

I am passionate about the development and delivery of local community health services, an area that is fundamental to relieving the burden on the wider health system and ensuring that care is delivered where and when people need it most. I look forward to overseeing the trust’s continual development and making the most of the exciting opportunities and challenges that will arise over coming years. 

Frank Sims is chief executive of Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust. Follow him and the trust on Twitter: @franksims9 @HRCH_NHS_Trust

Frank is also a commissioner for the Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People. 

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