Joe Harrison is a man on a mission – to ensure Milton Keynes Hospital is healthy and stays that way.
And although just five months into the hospital’s top job Mr Harrison is confident of achieving his objectives.
He admits it won’t be easy but with a no nonsense intelligent approach to the role of chief executive is determined to make a difference.
Mr Harrison took over the helm at Milton Keynes General in February. He joined from Bedford Hospital, where he was chief executive for almost two years. The two hospitals have close links, both clinically and strategically, so Mr Harrison had the advantage of having a good understanding of how Milton Keynes works.
He said: “I absolutely love it; it’s different from Bedford but the organisation here are so keen to do well. And I’m looking to further build on improvements we’ve already made, securing the hospital’s financial position and ensuring quality care continues to be provided to the people of Milton Keynes.
“We have a budget of £165million to spend and will have to make some tough decisions and hopefully wise choices on how we spend that money.
“But our priority is front line services and continuing to make improvements. For instance, waiting times in our A&E was one o f the worst and now our performance is one of the best.
“Admittedly we still need a bigger A&E for a growing population which is the subject of Citizen campaign I fully endorse. But the services offered through the front door of our A&E is vastly better.”
It’s early days but there’s a perception around the winding labyrinth of hospital corridors that Mr Harrison’s tenure is already making its mark and that the ‘new face’, which makes regular unannounced appearances on the wards, is motivating a dedicated staff to think more positively about the hospital they work in.
As if unleashing a new energy and drive Mr Harrison is inspiring Milton Keynes Hospital to not only meet the challenges ahead but, more importantly, ensure that what the hospital has is fit for purpose.
And it’s easy to see where this vision comes from.
A ‘health service man’ through and through Mr Harrison began his career as a medical clerk in 1988. Before Bedford, he held several senior management roles for London hospitals, including Barts and the London, North West London, University College London and the North Middlesex University Hospital Trust. And it’s in the family as his wife is also a chief executive at West Herts Hospital.
Mr Harrison is particularly known for his work improving patient services and performance.
He added: “We have to get patient care right not just for today but tomorrow. The clinical bar has been raised and the challenge is sustainability of top quality clinical service 24/7. We’re not there yet, but that’s the aim.”