We are pleased to present this annual review. It reflects a year that has seen the Trust’s commitment to excellence in patient care recognised across many platforms.
In its 2018 inspection of our services, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) awarded a rating of ‘Good’ and identified several areas of outstanding practice; recognising our “systematic approach to continually improving the quality of services, and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care flourishes”.
Commending our clinical teams for the compassion shown to patients, the CQC reported that: “Feedback from patients confirmed that staff treated them well and with kindness… staff involved patients and those close to them in decisions about their care and treatment… and provided emotional support to minimise their distress”.
Three of the four core services inspected were rated good (Children’s and Young People’s Services, Critical Care and Surgery at Royal Brompton Hospital) and one, Surgery at Harefield Hospital, was rated outstanding.
The Trust’s ECMO service for adults with severe acute respiratory failure (SARF), was highly praised at the Extracorporeal Life Support Organisation (ELSO) awards for Excellence in Life Support. Harefield Hospital was presented with the silver award, and Royal Brompton Hospital received the prestigious platinum award. This certification is the highest distinction given by ELSO, and Royal Brompton was the only centre in England to achieve it.
Several of our talented colleagues were recognised for their expertise and clinical leadership.
Professor Anita Simonds, consultant in respiratory and sleep medicine at Royal Brompton Hospital and Professor of respiratory and sleep medicine at Imperial College, was elected President of the European Respiratory Society (ERS). ERS brings together physicians, healthcare professionals, scientists and other experts working in respiratory medicine. It is the largest respiratory society in the world – covering not only Europe, but forging strong global links, particularly across Asia and Australasia.
Dr Nick Hopkinson, honorary consultant chest physician at Royal Brompton Hospital and reader in respiratory medicine at Imperial College, was appointed medical director of the British Lung Foundation (BLF). The Trust has close links with the BLF – the leading national umbrella charity that funds research into, and supports people affected by, lung disease.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, consultant cardiologist at the Trust and clinical senior lecturer at Imperial College, was appointed associate medical director for the British Heart Foundation (BHF). The BHF funds over £100 million of research each year into heart and circulatory conditions.
Many others were recognised by professional associations, medical colleges and national charities. But our clinicians are not motivated by accolades. Across both our sites, talented teams of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals strive every day to offer patients the very best specialist care that is available, anywhere in the world.
This year saw pioneering innovation in minimally-invasive heart valve surgery at Harefield Hospital transform the lives of patients. Using a small 6cm incision between the ribs, minimally-invasive techniques mean a quicker recovery time with many patients returning to work within four weeks. Traditional aortic valve surgery entails cutting through the chest with an incision of up to 30cm, and a recovery time of up to six months.
At Royal Brompton, doctors have treated the largest number of premature babies in Europe with pioneering catheter interventions. Babies with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) – a life threatening congenital heart defect – have benefited from a new procedure that takes just 20 minutes and avoids the need for open heart surgery, a complex procedure in tiny babies. Babies were referred by 20 different neonatal intensive care units across the country, as the Trust is the only centre in the UK to have a specialist referral team.
Our experts joined forces with the west London cancer alliance, hosted by cancer centre The Royal Marsden, to diagnose patients with lung cancer earlier, by using mobile CT scanners in the community. They recruited 2,284 patients to over 200 research programmes that will contribute towards better patient care and outcomes. They were awarded funding from the National Institute for Health Research Invention Innovation (i4i) Programme to study how artificial intelligence can diagnose a rare inherited lung condition, and launched the UK’s first international postgraduate course in heart failure; and received a 95 per cent recommendation score in the annual Friends and Family Test.
So it is not news to us that we have some of the most talented, skilled and committed teams in the NHS within our Trust. We know that clinical leadership is vital if we are to move forward and continue to break new ground in treatment and research, and it is particularly encouraging to see the enthusiasm shown by clinical colleagues for our planned collaboration with King’s Health Partners (Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT, King’s College Hospital, South London and Maudsley NHS FT, and King’s College London University).
We already work closely with colleagues at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in particular, and over the past 12 months it has become apparent that there is a very real appetite among clinical teams to investigate closer ways of working. Although central to our vision is the development of a new purpose-built clinical academic facility on the St Thomas’ Hospital and Evelina London Children’s Hospital site, which will take around 10 years to complete, clinical and research links with colleagues across King’s Health Partners are growing stronger by the day, with joint clinics and services developing in several areas.
We are confident that the greatly enhanced opportunities that this collaboration offers, and the strength of our brand, will attract clinicians and researchers from other countries to this new hub of expertise and opportunity. Training and education opportunities, in particular, will be world-leading, supporting not only recruitment but retention.
Being part of a wider network will provide the opportunity to do things differently, to design new models of care using the best of the best from each partner organisation. Working as one team, at scale, our combined capability will place us in the global top five for world-leading heart and lung research and personalised care.
Our plans will take time to develop and deliver; transformation on this scale requires detailed planning and engagement. But whatever else changes in the environment around us, it is patients who remain our focus, and our commitment to them will continue to guide everything that we do.