Hospital can have a ‘strong and positive future’, says new boss

Kettering General Hospital chief executive David Sissling in his office
Kettering General Hospital chief executive David Sissling in his office

Kettering General Hospital’s new chief executive has predicted a strong future for the hospital as it serves the area’s rapidly growing population.

David Sissling, who took over at the start of April, admitted there were some challenges the organisation had to face.

But he also said the hospital had been successful in significantly improving accident and emergency waiting times and infection control.

Speaking to the Northants Telegraph, Mr Sissling said: “I think the hospital has the potential for a very, very strong future – we need to make that future happen.

“We are working in an environment where the population of Northamptonshire is growing. There will be an increasingly elderly population, more demand on NHS services and we need to make sure we’ve got the services and capabilities to respond to that.

“But I am very clear that there is a very strong, positive future for this trust and the hospital services.”

He also insisted there should be no concerns over the future of A&E or maternity services at the hospital.

“I think there will continue to be an A&E department,” he said. “At the moment we are looking at options to develop that, to invest in the department. There will be, I’m sure, a very busy A&E providing urgent care to the population of north Northamptonshire.”

And he added: “All the plans are predicated on the continuation of maternity care services here at Kettering General Hospital for the foreseeable future.”

He said that in his first month in the job he had been struck by the warmth of the welcome, the improvements to services already put in place and the hospital’s willingness to embrace innovation.

But he added: “The other first impression is, among those many positive issues, that this is an organisation that clearly does have some challenges moving forward. Its financial position is one which, at the end of last year, had a deficit of £6.4 million.”

He said that figure only represented three per cent of the hospital’s overall budget, and there was no expectation of it needing financial support.

But he added: “Any deficit is something that we would want to avoid, and certainly the determination here is to address that particular issue with real urgency and make sure we do so in a way that doesn’t compromise quality.

“It’s important we don’t take any action in addressing our financial challenge that impacts on the quality of care that we provide. An awful lot of our attention is being given to the quality of care rather than simply cutting costs.”

He also admitted parts of the hospital estate were in need of refurbishment.

Asked how he wanted to be judged at the end of his time in Kettering, whenever that might be, Mr Sissling said: “I think ultimately by the standard and quality of care we provide to those who use the hospital services (and) the ability to develop and then implement plans which provide the hospital with a very positive future by our ability to address the challenges we face at the moment.”

He also said he wanted to capitalise on the expertise and enthusiasm of staff to ensure Kettering General Hospital had a national reputation for quality of care, willingness to innovate as well as being an organisation which meets the needs of the local population.

He added: “The reason I came to Kettering was very much based on the potential that I believe this organisation has.

“Everything I’ve seen over the last month would confirm the assessment that this is a hospital with potential for the future.

“It needs to change in some ways, but has the right building blocks – excellent staff, good-quality services, good insight into its strengths and where some areas of relative shortcoming are – and there’s an increasing appetite to pursue this path of ambitious change for the future.”