New chairman of Peterborough and Stamford Hospital Trust faces issues head on

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A charity founder has pledged to “put the patient first” in his new role as chairman of Peterborough and Stamford Hospital Trust.

Rob Hughes was appointed chairman in January and started the role this month.

The 56-year-old is the former managing director of Mars Food UK and is 
also chairman of the charity Anna’s Hope, which he founded with his wife, Carole, following the death of their three-year-old daughter Anna in 2006 following a brain tumour.

Mr Hughes, who lives in Pilsgate near Barnack, said: “My background involves putting the customer first 
and that’s what I want to do here.

“I want patients to have confidence that they will receive the best care here - that’s my mission and that’s what I will be held accountable for.

“If we put patients first then we will deliver the best possible service we can.

“And I also want patients to tell us their experiences here - good and bad. That’s the sort of culture I want to create.”

In addition to his work with Anna’s Hope, Mr Hughes is also a trustee at Brain Tumour Research and is involved in an NHS strategic review of children’s neuro-surgery.

He believes his experience in the medical world will help him in his new role.

Mr Hughes added: “My background is in business but I have spent a lot of time in hospitals, getting to know how they work.

“I have looked at hospitals from a patient’s perspective, which I think will give 
me a good platform to work from.”

Mr Hughes is starting his role as a contingency planning team, appointed by health watchdog Monitor, investigates the trust’s £45m deficit.

At the root of the hospital’s problems is the private finance initiative signed in 2007 to secure the funds to build the new Peterborough City Hospital, at a cost of £289m.

The results of the investigation are expected in June.

Mr Hughes said: “I await Monitor’s findings with interest - they are bringing a fresh perspective to our financial position.

“In my experience, you can analyse a situation over and over until you are exhausted and end up not getting anywhere.

“So I hope that with Monitor’s help we can come up with new solutions and start to move forward.”

High on Mr Hughes’ priorities is finding a solution to a beds crisis.

He is considering turning office space on the building’s fourth floor into new wards to tackle the problem.

In February, a black alert was declared because there were so few beds available and in March, the hospital declared an internal major incident as it had no beds available at all and had to call on neighbouring health trusts to help.

Mr Hughes said: “This hospital was built to make use of the fourth floor, so it is a real option for us.

“What happened in February is not a unique problem to Peterborough, it has happened around the country, but we cannot sit back - we are actively looking at solutions.

“The population of Peterborough is growing and it will have an impact on us.

“I’d much rather see my office on the fourth floor moved or down-sized if it means helping our patients.

“We are also still looking into the option of getting electric buggies to transport patients from the hospital entrance to some of the wards. It’s something I would like to see.”

Mr Hughes, who is originally from Sunderland, was appointed to the non-executive role on the trust board following a rigorous recruitment and selection programme.

He hopes his vast managerial experience will prove beneficial in his new role.

He said: “I am used to running large organisations and dealing with people.

“I was at Mars for 11 years. When I joined, the company did not have a very healthy reputation. When I left, 95 per cent of our products were made from natural ingredients.

“That happened because I was determined to get the company to deliver a great product.

“Here at Peterborough hospital we have some excellent staff and my mission remains the same - to deliver a great product.”

In his first few weeks in the job Mr Hughes has spent time getting to know the staff and visiting the wards and departments to see first-hand the work they 
do.

Mr Hughes, who plans to cycle the 18-mile round trip to and from work, added: “The hospital is a big site but I want to get to know as many people here as possible.

“Again, I want to create a culture of openness, where everyone is pushing in the same direction.

“I’ve been made to feel very welcome by everyone and I look forward to meeting more staff and patients in the coming weeks.

“I would also like to thank my predecessor Nigel Hards for the excellent job he did.

“I see a very strong management team in place, ready to face the challenges ahead.”