Search

New head of Queen’s and King George Hospital ready to take on challenge

14:32 01 April 2014

Matthew Hopkins will take charge in April. Picture: BHRUT

Matthew Hopkins will take charge in April. Picture: BHRUT

Archant

Matthew Hopkins describes himself as a “relentless optimist”.

Queen's Hospital's emergency departmentQueen's Hospital's emergency department

It is a good starting point for the man faced with arguably the toughest job in the NHS - turning around the embattled trust behind Queen’s and King George hospitals.

Drowning in an estimated £150million debt, the trust has been put in special measures to tackle unsafe A&E units, understaffing, long waiting times and poor planning.

Meanwhile, the restructure plan meant to improve services is passionately opposed by residents and local politicians.

It is a huge task but Matthew, 47, insists he is undaunted.

Protestors at King George HospitalProtestors at King George Hospital

“I am very much looking forward to the challenge and getting my teeth into a big organisation,” he said.

He became chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) on Tuesday following Averil Dongworth’s retirement.

After three years heading Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, in Surrey, the NHS Trust Development Authority thought he was the man for the job.

Matthew will be on secondment for the first six months, when the arrangement will be reviewed.

“They wanted somebody to continue the improvement work that Averil led and help the trust move out of special measures,” he said.

“When I joined Epsom and St Helier it had a £38m deficit and was facing the prospect of being split up.”

It now has healthy finances and is on its way to becoming a devolved foundation trust.

Matthew’s move to BHRUT was a blow to his colleagues in Surrey, who praised his work.

Trust chairman Laurence Newman said: “He has overseen some incredible improvements at Epsom and St Helier, and we are sure he can lead the team in Barking, Havering and Redbridge to do the same.”

Priority one is BHRUT’s extensive financial problems, including a yawning £33m deficit and huge spending on locum staff.

The trust must then hit set targets to come out of special measures and continue implementing a huge restructure of services.

King George Hospital’s A&E, in Goodmayes, is set to shut in late 2015 following the closure of its maternity department in March 2013.

Services are being “centralised” at different hospitals following the controversial Health for North East London review.

The plans were drawn up before the 2011 census exposed rocketing birth rates and rising population in Redbridge and surrounding boroughs but the government has confirmed the restructure will continue.

Similar plans to downgrade St Helier Hospital, closing maternity and A&E, were scrapped earlier this year but Matthew insisted the cases were very different.

The Better Services, Better Value review was “much earlier in the process” he said, and never received approval from GPs or the government.

When pressed on whether a similar reversal was possible to stop the closure of King George’s A&E, Matthew said “implementation” was the focus rather than reviewing previous decisions.

“I’m keen to make sure that our patients and local population feel their services are going to be safe and any changes are made at the right speed and the right way”, he added.

“What my experience tells me is when people feel they have got accessible services in primary care, they are more comfortable with changes to hospitals.

“I want to give a very clear message we will work with the commissioners, patients, local politicians and the community to make sure the care we provide is as good as possible.”

Matthew wants to “crack the whole system” of community care and focus on early intervention to ease the pressure on Queen’s overloaded A&E.

Some commentators have used the figures at Queen’s and other struggling hospitals to argue the NHS is breaking down completely but it Matthew is a firm believer in the national institution.

“I’m an NHS person through and through. I committed my career to it because I completely believe in the idea of public service,” he said.

“My experience with NHS care is that actually on the whole most things are done well but I do think there’s always room for improvement.”

There is certainly plenty of room at Queen’s Hospital and King George but Matthew believes it will be a very different picture in three years.

He said: “I would like to be able to say the vast majority of patients get great care every day.

“I would hope we have made some good progress on to financial performance of the organisation.

“I want the really good things about the organisation to be more visible.”

Related articles

0 comments

Latest Romford News Stories

Members of staff outside the store for the last time.

Staff and customers bid a sad farewell to the BHS department store as it closed its doors at the weekend.

08:28
Amy Marren in action in the women's 400m freestyle S9 final, competing for Team GB at the Paralympics London 2012. Photo: Phil Searle/ParalympicsGB

A couple of days before getting on a plane to Rio for this year’s Paralympic Games, Team GB swimmer Amy Marren is ready to “get the job done”.

23 minutes ago
Jim and Max Radford, 9, from Brentwood, join Daniella Payet making plasticine models.

The deputy Mayor joined hundreds of adults and children for a fun filled day of face painting, crafts and cupcakes in the sunshine.

Yesterday, 20:32
The Havering Show. Families having fun

There was something for everyone on day two of this year’s Havering Show, including mad scientists and soul legends of the 1970s.

Yesterday, 11:46
Reporters Ann-Marie Abbasah and Hayley Anderson with soul legend Jocelyn Brown.

With a hit laden set list, there was no mountain high enough to keep veteran singer Jocelyn Brown from rocking the crowd at the Havering Show, yesterday.

Yesterday, 09:35
Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Gurdial Bhamra, chairman of Morden Cllr Peter Elliot, Bedrock Hospital Radio's mascot, mayor of Havering Cllr Philippa Crowder and mayor of Brentwood Cllr Noelle Hones.

Day two of the Havering Show kicks off from 11am today at Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch, with a line-up featuring something for everyone.

Yesterday, 07:00
Amplify founders Tom Murch and Jack Withing

A pair of music lovers are making some noise across the borough as they launched their own T-shirt brand.

Sunday, August 28, 2016
Reporters Hayley Anderson and Ann-Marie Abbasah at the Havering Show.

From wrestling and BMX tricks to star acts and fair ground rides, the first day of the Havering Show had it all.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now