October – December 2017

The power and challenge of innovation:

The 21st century is full of innovators, not least here at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology where clinical scientists take an idea and fight hard to prove or disprove a theory. Their work forms a critical part of our rich history, upholds our reputation and has led to substantial advances in the care provided to patients with sight loss as well as our understanding of science. I know from my conversations with many of them that they also face significant challenges to move forward past the doubters, disbelievers and those who say “it can never be done”. But they power on and, thankfully, have the resilience and belief in their abilities and that of their teams.

I recently saw first-hand the new clinical pathways designed to improve waiting times and patient experience at our hospital in Dubai. The philosophy of change is based on the concept of doing preparatory work early and ensuring patients are constantly guided through a steadily moving pathway. The Dubai team has seen dramatic reductions in clinical waiting times as a result. I am also very excited about the Cayton Street development due to open next month. The decision to expand our glaucoma and urgent care services to new speciality clinics was rooted in a desire to do things differently and to create a hub of patient pathway innovation. I encourage all our staff, where possible, to get involved in making tangible improvements, and to innovate. With decreasing funding and increasing patient expectations there is no more important time to be brave, than now.

An autumn of celebration:

I always enjoy this time of year. It may be the autumn rugby internationals or because I have young children and get caught up in their excitement for Halloween, Bonfire night, the Oxford Street festive lights and the (far too early) Christmas TV adverts; it’s a great time of year. It’s also an important time of year for me to reflect as chief executive, a time to look back on the 12 months that have passed and look forward to our priorities for next year.

Autumn is also a time for celebrating success. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than reading the nominations for the Moorfields’ Stars awards as they come in. It’s very uplifting to read the heartfelt warmth that many of our staff express about their colleagues, and the high regard in which staff are held by the patients we serve. I have read nominations this year about staff whose complete focus is going the extra mile, driving high quality care, being an advocate for patients and their families, and constantly wanting to be better at what they do.

Alongside reviewing the Stars nominations I also had the pleasure to speak this month at the Friends of Moorfields annual general meeting. It was another fantastic event organised by the Friends and an opportunity to celebrate those who volunteer to support the trust, and who go the extra mile for the patients we are all very proud to serve. We enjoyed a fascinating presentation led by Nick Strouthidis, consultant ophthalmologist and deputy divisional director, on developments in glaucoma (complete with a captivating video!). Steven Davies, deputy chief executive and chief financial officer, shared with us the current financial challenges facing the NHS and how important charitable support is from the Friends, Moorfields Eye Charity and others. I was also incredibly honoured to be asked to present awards to members of the Friends who have supported the trust for five, 10 and even 25 years! We thank all of the Friends volunteers for all they have done and continue to do. We are incredibly grateful to have the support of the Friends, Moorfields Eye Charity and many more wonderful organisations committed to our cause. 

During November I also had the opportunity to attend my first NHS awards ceremony. As many of you are aware, we were shortlisted this year for the prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) award for Provider Trust of the Year. It was incredibly uplifting to be one of only seven NHS trusts shortlisted for the award. The event was attended by a cross section of Moorfields staff who presented to HSJ as part of the judging process. While we didn’t win the award, being shortlisted remains an incredible achievement.

Season’s greetings:

Christmas and the New Year period means different things to many people; for me as, I’ve said before, it’s a time of reflection as well as looking forward.

There is so much to look back on positively during 2017. The year started with the publication of the trust’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection reports. We were rated Good with outstanding features, particularly in how we care for patients and our services for children and young people. As the year progressed the CQC also reported how our Accident and Emergency department operates and how children, young people and their families view our services. I was so proud that among our peers we were highlighted as leaders in all of these areas.

We approved a number of major decisions this year which will have a significant bearing on Moorfields’ future. These include: the decision to purchase a new Electronic Medical Record system, redevelop our site at St George’s, invest and open a new facility at Cayton Street, launch a new organisational strategy and a Future Nursing Workforce Project, and invest in critically important services including genetics and a specialist pharmacy. These decisions were taken against a backdrop of significant financial challenge but are important and appropriate to help us continue to drive forward our organisation. 

In 2017 we received significant media coverage in the UK and internationally for our world leading service, research and education achievements. A particular highlight was reading Chris Hopson’s, chief executive at NHS Providers, feedback after his visit to Moorfields. He summarised in 10 tweets all that makes me, and I hope you, very, very proud. Our world leading research programme supported and recognised by our reaccredited Biomedical Research Centre status allows us to continue to influence and drive forward changes in technology, drug development and patient experience. This continues to allow our patients to receive the best possible care now and in the future. As well as international recognition it was also incredibly uplifting to see our support to major London and national reports and strategies including the recent London Assembly report on sight loss, NICE panel decisions and service commissioning debates. We also celebrated with patients, volunteers and supporters the 10 year anniversaries of the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre, Moorfields Bedford, Moorfields Dubai and Ronald McDonald House Moorfields.

Wonderful care is ultimately determined by wonderful people. Nothing is more important to success than our staff. A big highlight for me in 2017 was giving out the employee of the month awards for hard work and dedication; celebrating the numerous prestigious awards won by so many staff, and seeing so many Moorfields clinical leaders appointed to leadership roles across the world of ophthalmology. The level of recognition our staff have driven and the responsibility they have all taken on is admirable and a credit to their professionalism and commitment. It has also been an immense pleasure to see the apprenticeship programme grow and develop; to see existing staff take on new opportunities and to welcome new, ambitious talent to the organisation. This programme is set to grow next year as we develop the Moorfields’ stars of the future. Developing our positive and inclusive organisational culture remains high on my personal agenda for 2018 and I was pleased to celebrate the launch of the BeMoor staff network and board level people committee as two clear examples of how we increase the priority of this area of critically important development.

I would also like to pay credit to our supporters, the charities and volunteers who give up so much time to make a difference. All our supporters are critical but I would particularly like to give thanks and to recognise Moorfields Eye Charity and Friends of Moorfields for all they have done and continue to do to invest in our services, research, education and how we care. Thank you.

David Probert

Twitter: @probert_david

Last updated: 22nd October 2018