The big boss behind Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans hospitals has been named Chief Executive of the Year at a prestigious health industry awards ceremony.
Samantha Jones, who leads the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, was given the accode at the Health Service Journal Awards on Wednesday.
The region’s hospitals were also highly commended in the patient safety category for its Operation Onion – an initiative aimed at improving patient care and empowering hospital staff to raise concerns about the quality of care provided.
The unusual moniker relates to the scheme ‘peeling back the layers’ within its hospitals.
Ms Jones, was described by judges as a ‘passionate, values-driven leader, uncompromising about patient safety with the courage to have honest conversations’ at the event in London, which is the largest celebration of healthcare excellence in the UK.
Samantha said “I was surprised to be nominated and absolutely delighted, and extremely humbled, to win the HSJ Chief Executive of the Year Award.
“However this award recognises the hard work of every single member of staff across our three hospitals, from the doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants in our A&E department to the porters, cleaners and managers working behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.”
Chair of the hospitals’ Trust Board Mahdi Hasan said: “I would like to commend Samantha on winning the HSJ Chief Executive of the Year Award.
“It is thoroughly deserved. Samantha is an absolute inspiration to work with and her commitment to the NHS, our hospitals, our patients and our staff is evident in everything that she does.
“The HSJ Awards are the Oscars of the NHS and, combined with being ‘highly commended’ in the patient safety category, this is a very proud day for our hospitals.”
The Trust’s medical director Dr Mike van der Watt also praised the Onion project for changing the way things are done across West Herts’ three hospitals.
He said: “Using the ‘peeling back the layers’ philosophy we’ve seen significant improvements in the quality and safety of care we offer to our patients.
“Since ‘Onion’ was launched we’ve seen a 25% decrease in mortality or death rates across our hospitals, as well as a massive 40% cut in the number of cases of the hospital-acquired infection Clostridium Difficile.
“Our staff have reported major improvements too, including in the way we engage with them and involve them in the running of our hospitals.”
For more about Onion, watch the video above from the Trust’s Youtube channel.