BHRUT chief executive Matthew Hopkins confident the trust will leave special measures this year

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Queens and King George hospitals, says massive progress has be

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Queens and King George hospitals, says massive progress has been made in key areas - Credit: Archant

For the man who runs one of the busiest hospital trusts in the UK, 2016 has the potential to be a year of improvements.

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford, and King George Hospital, Goodmayes, told the Recorder he is “confident” 2016 will be the year the trust finally comes out of special measures, imposed in 2013.

Following inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the trust was told it was “failing local people” with staff levels and waiting times particular areas of concerns.

In July, the CQC concluded that although improvements had been made, further progress was needed before special measures were lifted.

Mr Hopkins, who joined the trust in April 2014, said “massive progress” has been made in the key areas identified. This includes the creation of a dedicated children’s phlebotomy service and improvements in the management of drugs and medicines.

In the past few months, the trust has started publishing its performance results, having stopped in April 2014 as the data was not reliable.

For Mr Hopkins, the publication is a positive indicator that data is being “recorded properly”, enabling patients to hold their hospital to account.

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But for the man who has previously described himself as a “relentless optimist”, improvements must not stop here.

“The challenges are always that we are not satisfied – that is our aim, to be ranked outstanding by our patients and our staff,” he said.

In 2016 Mr Hopkins hopes to see progress on waiting times and access to emergency services, two areas he described as key to his ambition for the hospitals.

Although access to urgent GP appointments has been improved, Mr Hopkins said over the two weeks of Christmas and New Year, the A&E department saw 1,743 more patients than at the same time last year.

But despite high numbers, 91.1per cent of patients were seen, treated and discharged within the hospitals’ four hour target.

One of the first challenges of 2016 for Mr Hopkins will be to reduce BHRUT’s year-on-year deficit from £38million to £34m, something he said the trust is “on track” to achieve by the end of the financial year.

While Mr Hopkins is adamant his ambition is for the hospital’s finances to be sound, he stressed this has to be done “in the context of an NHS that is financially challenged”.