Worthing and Southlands hospitals celebrate 10 years as a trust: 'this is the best place to work in the world'

Birthday celebrations were in order last week after one of the best NHS hospital trusts in the country marked a decade of top-quality care.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust celebrated the 10th anniversary of it being founded last Monday.

Staff outside Worthing Hospital celebrating the milestone. Picture: Steve Robards

Staff outside Worthing Hospital celebrating the milestone. Picture: Steve Robards

At Worthing Hospital, in Lyndhurst Road, Worthing, hundreds of staff members and volunteers gathered outside the reception to celebrate the milestone – and to have a slice of the giant birthday cake made by Truffles Bakery, which is apparently one of the biggest they have ever made.

Similar celebrations were held at Southlands, in Upper Shoreham Road, Shoreham, and St Richard’s, in Spitalfield Lane, Chichester, which are the other hospitals which make up the trust.

Among those cutting the cake in Worthing were Dr George Findlay, executive medical director and deputy chief executive of the trust, and nursing director Dr Maggie Davies. Dr Findlay has been at the trust for five years, having previously been working in Cardiff.

He said: “We are only the fifth trust to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission in England, so it is testament to all the hard work that our staff put in.

“It is phenomenally busy, but we give a great quality of care to our patients.

“We have a privileged job and our job is to make sure patients can access really high-quality care, and we think in Worthing and Chichester and Southlands we have helped that to happen.

“But that is down to our staff: through the hard work of our staff we deliver care that is really appreciated. They feel valued, they feel safe and well looked after when they come to hospital.”

How the trust has changed, from 2009 to 2019

Outpatients: Appointment numbers up almost 40% to 605,000

Inpatients and day cases: Up by nearly a quarter to 138,000

Scans and x-rays: Up by a third to around 400,000

Average length of stay: More than halved – down from 5 days to less than 2.5

Hospital-acquired MRSA consigned to history: 0 cases at present

C.diff almost eradicated: 252 cases a year to less than 30

New investment: £150million into buildings, equipment, clinical facilities and IT

A further £20 million in donations from Love Your Hospital and our Friends’ organisations

More staff/volunteers: Trust family has grown by a fifth to nearly 10,000 staff and volunteers

Staff turnover: down from 13% to 8%

Vacancy rate: down from 14% to 11%

Sickness rate: down from 6% to 4%

"This is the best trust to work for in the world"

Dr Davies joined the trust more than four years ago after working for the Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group.

She said: “This is the best trust to work for in the world. Worthing is my local hospital, so it means a lot to me. I couldn’t be prouder to work for this trust.”

The trust was formed on April 1, 2009, when the Royal West Sussex and Worthing & Southlands NHS trusts merged.

Within four years, Western Sussex Hospitals was granted foundation trust status, which gives greater control over decision making.

In April 2016, it became the first multi-site hospital trust to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths spearheaded the trust’s success. She said: “I am extraordinarily proud of Western Sussex Hospitals and everyone who works and volunteers for the trust.

“Their exemplary care, kindness and compassion are experienced by thousands of people every day and their achievements over the past ten years have been absolutely phenomenal.”

The trust has seen demand for its services rise dramatically since 2009, a spokesman said. This year, 605,000 outpatient appointments took place – up nearly 40 per cent in 10 years.

Similarly, the number of inpatients and day cases staff see each year has risen by 23 per cent to 138,000 in 2018/19, while 143,000 people attended the trust’s accident and emergency departments – 400 a day on average.

The trust is also among the safest 20 per cent of hospitals on mortality rates and was the eighth best in the country in February for A&E waiting times, the spokesman said.

One of the secrets of the trust’s success is its Patient First improvement program, which focuses on empowering frontline staff to make improvements themselves using management models adapted from the Toyota Motor Company.

Fiona Hunter works for the Patient First improvement delivery team, teaching the programme to staff, and has been working for the trust for eight years. According to her, one of the big successes was reducing the number of patient falls in hospital.

She said: “The reason the trust is so successful is that we have an amazing body of people working here who are very committed and dedicated; people who do above and beyond what is required.”

Dame Marianne said: “I have so much pride in the organisation and our people – no matter what challenges we face and no matter what we ask, they never fail to deliver.

“Our staff really care about our patients, but they care about each other as well.

“That’s what people experience here – it’s what our staff survey tells us and what the CQC found: just an amazingly friendly place to be.”