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‘Weak leadership’ to blame for low staff morale, says new chairman of Whittington Hospital

14:12 10 March 2014

Whittington Hospital chairman Steve Hitchins

Whittington Hospital chairman Steve Hitchins

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Doctors and nurses working at the Whittington Hospital are suffering “dips in morale” and “unsustainable” workloads, according to the new chairman of the hospital.

Steve Hitchins, a former leader of Islington Council who began his new role in December, admitted “weak leadership” combined with the push to reach government targets was causing staff to become “fed up”.

Complaints

Speaking at a meeting organised by the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC) and held last week at St Mary’s Church in Dartmouth Park Road, Mr Hitchins said the current situation “could not continue”.

“We’ve got some really bad results on our complaints service – and that’s because our staff are under an awful lot of pressure,” he said.

“We spend an enormous amount of effort to reach our targets and the staff are working exceptionally hard to achieve that. That isn’t sustainable.

“We’ve seen some dips in morale showing that people are fed up because they’re working over and above the call of duty.

“That culture is reflected in complaints and, probably, a weak leadership which needs reinforcing and building up again.”

Concerns put to Mr Hitchins by members of the audience included the £15million worth of cuts “threatening” the hospital and the “damaged trust” with the community since proposals to sell off hospital buildings prompted mass protests last year.

The chairman – who described himself as “a local lad” and an “NHS patient of 42 years” – admitted hospital bosses needed to rebuild a relationship that it “nearly destroyed” and said he wanted to end the “Putin-esque” stand-off between the hospital and campaigners.

“A number of people in the hospital stopped listening to the community,” he said. “That must never happen again – we upset all of you unnecessarily over a year ago.

“Now people are concerned about changes in staffing and, yes, we’ve got to make some savings.

“It’s a time of economic constraint and the NHS has been protected more than most other public services.

“We’ve had to make modest savings. They’re challenging but they’re not going to change the way the hospital operates.

“I don’t anticipate any forced staff redundancies.”

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