Nick’s off to travel to Sri Lanka…in an old Land Rover!

Nick Swift

Nick Swift

After almost six years, our Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Nick Swift (above), is leaving our Trust to spend 300 days travelling around 30,000km by car to his wife Niro’s home country, Sri Lanka.

And while he recognises we still have a long way to go on our improvement journey, he’s happy to be leaving an organisation in a much better place than when he joined.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the progress our Trust has made. We’re no longer seen as a black hole, but as a rising star. It’s a huge compliment to what everyone has managed to achieve. We’re definitely heading in the right direction.

“This was the first NHS trust I’ve worked for, but I hope it’s not the last. It has been amazing, the best job I’ve had, and also the most frustrating. To be part of a global super power in health has been really enjoyable. Overall, I’m really grateful for the friendship and learning. Thanks for having me.”

Early on in his time with us, Nick had a typical NHS day, summarising the good and the not so good about working in healthcare.

He said: “In the morning we were talking about saving a 22-year-old with a blood clot. It was removed via a mechanical thrombectomy and she was home in three days. Without it, she was at risk of death or paralysis. Not only was she saved, but a lot of grief and pain was avoided for her family.

“In the afternoon, I heard two colleagues had an argument. When we talk about patients, we’re incredible, but sometimes when we’re talking to each other, we can be awful. We need to keep the focus on our patients, they’re why we’re all here doing amazing things. The more we focus on them, the better we’ll be as an organisation.”

On joining our Trust, after being CFO at British Airways, Nick said he first noticed a lack of investment. During his tenure, we’ve gone from investing £7m a year in capital projects to improve our hospitals, to over £50m a year.

Nick credits this additional investment to the work of colleagues to make changes and shift perceptions about our Trust, giving NHS England and London more confidence in us.

He added: “It became really stark for me when Covid hit, it was a difficult and uncertain time and we, like other trusts, had to carefully manage our oxygen supply.

“At one point we were at 111 per cent capacity, if that had failed, and it didn’t because we responded incredibly well, hundreds of patients would have been at risk. It’s a good example that you can’t keep underinvesting.

“The additional capital funding has meant we’ve been able to invest in new theatres, and a community diagnostic centre, with both opening soon. We’re also investing in digital, with an electronic patient record which will really make transformational change to the way we look after patients. Having the same systems across our neighbouring trusts Bart’s and the Homerton is a terrific opportunity.”

And before he goes (on Tuesday 19 March), Nick couldn’t resist giving some final advice on managing our finances.

“We need to focus on patient value and reducing waste. Stop wasting money on expensive agency staff, use theatres more effectively, don’t keep patients in hospital longer than they need to be.

“There are so many other things we’d like to be spending our money on, like improving primary care to keep people out of hospital.”

Nick’s replacement is former Director of Finance, Mike Gilham.

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