Northamptonshire hospitals gain university hospital status which will bring 'major benefits' to towns

“This is a very exciting new chapter for health and care provision in Northamptonshire"

By Logan MacLeod
Thursday, 1st July 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 8:02 am
Northampton General Hospital
Northampton General Hospital

Staff from Kettering General Hospital (KGH) and Northampton General Hospital (NGH) are celebrating having achieved University Hospital status.

The hospital group has worked to achieve this result, which Kettering and Northampton NHS group chief executive Simon Weldon has said will bring 'many benefits' to both towns.

The university hospital status was announced today (July 1) along with the launch of a new hospital group called University Hospitals of Northamptonshire (UHN) NHS Group.

Kettering General Hospital

A NHS spokesperson said the new developments will drive greater equality of access to services for people living locally; improve patient care and outcomes for the people of Northamptonshire as the county recovers from the Covid pandemic; and enhance career, training, learning and development opportunities for hospital staff.

Group chief executive Simon Weldon said: “This is a very exciting new chapter for health and care provision in Northamptonshire, enabling us to create a sustainable future for both

Northampton and Kettering General Hospitals.

“Our first ambition as a partnership was always to become a University Hospital Group because we recognise the major benefits it will bring to our patients, our staff and our hospitals.

"Doctors, nurses, they really want this to happen. When you talk to staff, what they say is 'we really want to do the best by our patients'.

"It is a perfect example of something we would never have achieved alone, and it is testament to the drive, determination and collaborative spirit of colleagues from both Trusts that we have been able to secure university hospital status in time for the launch of our new hospital group.

“We know that we have improvements to make in both our hospitals - and we have a way to go yet - but this is a major milestone which marks the start of our collaborative journey.

"We are really excited about working together to broaden access to services and improve the quality of patient care we provide. We also welcome the ability to become a more attractive employer, both for those working with us, and to those considering a career with us.”

Mr Weldon elaborated on the importance of working with higher education establishments - like the University of Northampton - going forward.

He said: "We need to expand our ability to take more student doctors, more student nurses and if we do that, we know that if we give them a really great education experience when they're undergraduates, they stay around.

"Northampton University have a really important role in providing us with student nurses, who we also want to keep in the future.

"Pretty much every single hospital I know about is forming a relationship with a higher education establishments - it's not just universities. As we come out of the pandemic we'll be starting to reach out at schools again, because that's the place where you really capture people's imagination about coming to work for the NHS.

"Nursing has got a hugely vibrant future in Northamptonshire, the opportunities are endless. You can have a great career and once more, now we are a group, you can work across the group. So you can work in Kettering if you want to, Northampton if you want to. There's 100+ different careers in a hospital you can follow."

Mr Weldon shared his thoughts about the improvements he would like to make in the near future at both Kettering and Northampton hospitals.

He said: "I'm really passionate about getting the rebuild of the hospital completed at Kettering. I think the patients and staff at Kettering and Northampton deserve better facilities."

A Trust spokesman added: "Becoming a hospital group will enable us to accomplish many more things than we can possibly achieve as individual hospital Trusts; for example, we hope in the future to repatriate a number of services within Northamptonshire that we don’t presently have the resources to operate effectively.

"This will mean that many more people will be able to have their care and treatment delivered locally, instead of having to travel to hospitals outside of the county.

In a joint statement, medical directors Matt Metcalfe (Northampton) and Dr Rabia Imtiaz (Kettering), said: “Becoming a new University Hospital Group means we can share our resources where appropriate, and create bigger and stronger teams to cope more effectively with the rising demands for hospital care.

“University hospital status will be highly advantageous in many ways. Our patients and clinicians will have greater access to clinical trials and cutting-edge treatments, we will be able to nurture and grow future clinical leaders right here within Northamptonshire."

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “We have a shared vision with the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire for bringing our expertise to bear in order to deliver excellent health outcomes and I am confident that this partnership will go from strength to strength.”

Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton, said: “We welcome this excellent news about an ambitious and wide-ranging partnership that we hope will reap benefits for the health and wellbeing of members of our community.

"The ink has hardly had time to dry on the agreement but we are already involved in a number of exciting discussions about collaborative research projects that we are looking forward to pursuing.”

The two hospital Trusts remain as separate organisations and each will continue to provide maternity, children’s and A&E services.