EXCLUSIVE - Trust chief executive makes passionate vow to fight for future of NHS - The Leamington Observer

EXCLUSIVE - Trust chief executive makes passionate vow to fight for future of NHS

Leamington Editorial 5th Jul, 2018 Updated: 5th Jul, 2018   0

THE CHIEF executive of South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) says he will fight for the future of the NHS.

Glen Burley has spent 12 years at the organisation’s helm, and to mark the 70th anniversary of the formation of the National Health Service in 1948, he shared his thoughts exclusively with The Observer on the way forward for the increasingly under pressure institution.

He told the Observer: “Demand continues to escalate and some people say it will fall, but there is no life without health – it is not a discretionary spend item.

“It is a choice whether you fund it privately or publicly or a mix of the two, but the NHS is so good because it is totally publicly funded. In America where it is mixed they spend twice as much as we do and they get worse outcomes.

“If we still have the NHS in 70 years we should be incredibly proud. I think we will. What is the alternative? People who really need care would not access the services and it’s a more expensive scenario and affects society.

“I will fight for the NHS. Its been very challenging over the last year but I will fight for it with every breath in my body.”

The dad-of-two said the NHS was one of the best-loved institutions in the country and it was the staff that made SWFT – which runs hospitals in Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Shipston – tick.

“The NHS is something the rest of the world is envious of because it is built on nice people. People who give up their Christmas Day – that’s great dedication.

“We pay them, but we don’t pay them enough. They do it because they love the NHS and they are that kind of person that cares for others.

“It has become a calling to be in the NHS, like a religion. Politicians have realised they mess with it at their peril. The public love it. It’s the biggest employer in the world with 1.5million staff.”

Mr Burley – who also drops in on Christmas Day to support staff and visit patients – took over SWFT in 2006 and was immediately faced with the task of dealing with an £18.5million debt and a trust in crisis.

Under his leadership the debt was paid off two years ahead of schedule.

And he says despite now facing issues such as winter pressures, funding shortfalls and lack of staff, SWFT is in a much stronger position than many other trusts, and has recently seen the building a new £22million hospital in Stratford, and £1.6million midwife-led unit in Warwick.

Mr Burley – who has worked in the NHS for 35 years and started his career as a junior accountant – has recently also taken on roles as chief executive at Wye Valley Trust in Herefordshire – which he is attempting to navigate out of a deficit of £37million – and George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, which he juggles alongside his SWFT role.

But he said his favourite days were still spent at Warwick Hospital.

“This is my local hospital and what I have been proud of all these years. I’m most proud of the culture, staff and the experience patients get.

“It has been great to turn it from an organisation people were worried about to one people are now proud to work for.”

Prime Minister Theresa May recently announced a £20billion boost to the NHS, which was welcomed by Mr Burley, but speculation still looms about the service’s future.

But Mr Burley remains convinced the NHS will win through.


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