How would you describe the first year of Nuffield Health at St Bartholomew’s Hospital?
Jonathan Canham: I worked on the project as Business Development Director for two years before the hospital opened and then as Hospital Director during most of its first year, which has flown by. We opened the hospital with a consistent and consolidated approach, prioritising patient safety and quality of care for all hospital services above pace.
Opening a brand-new hospital in a post-COVID era has had many challenges, with a six-month delay to opening including a fire, multiple floods and supply chain issues but the entire hospital team has worked well together to overcome these challenges.
After leading tours of an empty hospital before it opened, it’s been so rewarding to see our patient numbers growing and more consultants regularly utilising our operating theatres and inpatient facilities.
Joe Carey: Before we opened last May, Jonathan, the team and I had planning sessions with experienced hospital operators, but for all the planning in the world, the first year has thrown up unexpected challenges. For example, supply chain shortages, recruitment challenges and the flood.
The hospital team has worked together to overcome these challenges and our strategy of a safe opening and progressing steadily, has worked well.
Our hospital team are close to each other, everyone knows each other’s name and it’s been good to see many of the team progressing their careers at the hospital and within the central Nuffield Health team, moving into new roles after performing well.
Adrian Connolly: I’ve taken over as Hospital Director from Jonathan in early 2023, what has stood out for me has been the quality of the hospital and the team’s commitment to grow the hospital.
Our people chose to join a new hospital and this takes a special type of person, someone who is aspirational and to make that choice, shows they want to make a difference.
What have been the highlights of the first year?
Jonathan Canham: I became very emotional when I visited our first cardiac bypass surgery patient recovering routinely in our dedicated intensive care unit post the operation. The accumulation of all the energy and expertise to undertake the surgery safely and provide the care he needed was overwhelming.
This patient has become a representative on our patient forum and is an advocate for our hospital after receiving high quality care and rehabilitation with us too.
While our hospital is operationally independent from Barts Health NHS Trust and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, we’ve worked in collaboration to support NHS patients who need breast surgery during the past year. This has been rewarding and shows the positive impact the hospital is making in the local community.
Joe Carey: I’ve also had an emotional attachment to our patients. Jonathan and I have onboarded our consultants so when you see the patient having a positive outcome after care from that consultant, it’s a highlight.
We’re also building closer relationships at the nearby Nuffield Health Barbican Fitness and Wellbeing Centre team and seeing our cardiac rehabilitation patients benefit from this is rewarding.
For example, our cardiac rehabilitation patients have told us they value the contact they have with us after they leave the hospital as it's reassuring, especially on their first night at home. They can get their questions answered and it provides reassurance.
Adrian Connolly: In my short time as Hospital Director so far, I’ve noticed the desire from the hospital team to get busier and develop good relationships. The hospital senior leadership team is determined to lead our people across the whole connected Nuffield Health services that include our hospitals and fitness and wellbeing centres to pursue our purpose of building a healthier nation.
What have been the new hospital’s strengths during the first year?
Jonathan Canham: On a clinical level, our cardiology service continues to be very successful. On a more strategic level, when the hospital first opened it was Nuffield Health’s first hospital in London. Now we are part of a London region as one of five hospitals and a connected network of medical and fitness and wellbeing centres across London.
This means our patients have access to high quality diagnostic, hospital care and rehabilitation services such as physio, dietary and mental wellbeing support. Because of our connected healthcare approach and facilities, we are seeing more patients from other locations being referred to our hospital, such as from Cornwall.
For example, we’ve had people come to us for diagnosis and treatment after our health assessments flagged possible cancer concerns.
Joe Carey: Building on our hospital’s connected healthcare approach, Adrian Connolly and I held a strategic meeting which we presented to leaders from our seven London fitness and wellbeing centres.
Many of them had only visited a hospital when they were unwell, so it was very positive to discuss and understand each other’s organisations and challenges. This can only benefit the patients, consultants and communities we work with.
Adrian Connolly: The team alongside Joe Carey comprises of Vicky Pangratiou – Head of Clinical Services and Jon Rolls – Operations Director who project managed the build. We are proud to be here in this amazing location in the City of London, providing high quality healthcare.
We believe our expertise across our wider network of London hospitals, fitness and wellbeing centres and medical facilities will drive growth and clinical excellence in our cardiac surgery, cardiology, oncology and digestive services for consultants and their patients.
What have been the challenges during the first year?
Jonathan Canham: Opening a new hospital that supports high acuity patients with complex medical conditions in central London was always going to be challenging, especially in the uncertain post-COVID environment.
The lumpiness of work has also been challenging for the hospital team during the first year, one day busy and another not so busy. This is normal in a new hospital, but it still has its challenges as the hospital team wants to get into a rhythm.
Joe Carey: Our hospital team has evolved since we opened, just as our hospital services have grown. I think this has been an enjoyable challenge and one that the hospital team has taken on well.
More generally, the healthcare environment is different after COVID and this impacts every healthcare professional and the way people work. I think this has changed and influenced the needs of the people our hospital works with.
Adrian Connolly: We are looking to grow our hospital team, so recruitment is always challenging as our hospital has many competing hospitals in London.
What are the aims for the second year and beyond?
Adrian Connolly: Continued, sustainable growth in our priority services such as cardiac surgery, cardiology, oncology and digestive health. Although we are separate operationally, we also want to continue to work well with our NHS friends at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Joe Carey: We are also focusing on our work within the local community. For example, we are in the early stages of working with a nearby GP practice and offering physiotherapy care to people who are homeless. As Nuffield Health is a charity, this type of work is important.
We are also focusing on being as sustainable in our healthcare work as possible. We already have our pathology carried out on-site with the support of the St Bartholomew’s Hospital NHS team, saving many miles in courier journeys.
Plus we are one of Nuffield Health’s 37 hospitals that have stopped using Desflurane - one of the most commonly used anaesthetic gases - since the start of this year (January 2023).
Jonathan Canham: We are celebrating the successful opening of a high acuity, new facility in the heart of the City of London overcoming a variety of challenges – the entire team is united and excited to face the continued development in the coming years.
As well as focusing on the future, it’s important to acknowledge the progress that has been made and to thank all the wider Nuffield Health team members who have been part of the journey for the last seven years.
Last updated Thursday 4 May 2023
First published on Wednesday 3 May 2023