New era dawns for Northamptonshire hospital provision

UHN Plaque unveiling Professor Edmund Burke, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Leicester and Group Chairman Alan Burns
Today, 1 July 2021, colleagues from Kettering General Hospital (KGH) and Northampton General Hospital (NGH) are celebrating having achieved University Hospital status, working with the University of Leicester, the University of Northampton and other academic partners. We are also delighted to announce the launch of our new hospital group, entitled University Hospitals of Northamptonshire (UHN) NHS Group.
Among other benefits, these exciting new developments will drive greater equality of access to services for people living locally; improved patient care and outcomes for the people of Northamptonshire as the county recovers from the Covid pandemic; and enhanced career, training, learning and development opportunities for our 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. 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.
Timecapsule 01 July 2021
“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.”
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.
We will also think and plan countywide, sharing our resources where appropriate rather than competing for them, which has often been the case over the last 30 years. This will help us become a more effective partner to our health and care system colleagues, enabling us to make a greater contribution towards improving patient pathways and outcomes across the whole of Northamptonshire.
In preparation for launch, our colleagues, patient representatives, and health and care partners have been involved in co-producing a new vision, mission, priorities and values for the hospital group known as ‘Dedicated to excellence’. This gives us a single ambition for the future and sets out the shared values which are at the heart of both hospital Trusts. 
In a joint statement, Medical Directors Mr 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. In many clinical areas, size does matter. You need sufficient resources to provide each service safely and effectively, and to secure these resources you need to ensure your clinicians are seeing enough patient cases.
“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, and we will become far more attractive as an employer which will serve both to attract and retain the best possible talent. All these factors - and more - mean that local people can expect better quality of care and outcomes from their hospitals, as has been demonstrated by other NHS University Trusts.”  
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “The University of Leicester has a long history of working with hospitals in Kettering and Northampton. This enhanced partnership is key to strengthening our relationship and delivering excellent outcomes for members of the community as well as our staff and students.
“The training of future generations of doctors and nurses, as well as other health professionals, is vital for our future and offering them increased opportunities for clinical practice ensures we give our medical professionals the best possible start to their careers.  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 partnership will also help bring two Universities and two hospitals even closer together. 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.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Edmund Burke, is pictured unveiling  a plaque marking the achievement of University Hospital status pictured with Group Chairman Alan Burns. Prof Burke was accompanied by Dr Cathy Smith, Dean of Research, Innovation and Impact, at the University of Northampton.

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