Community health services in Milton Keynes are in safe hands – despite management being based in London.
That’s the assurance given by the head of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) which took over responsibility for running local services on April 1.
Chief executive, Claire Murdoch, said: “As far as strategy and day-to-day management is concerned, it has to be local.
“Our number one priority during the transfer was to ensure staff stayed focused on patient care and that will always remain our priority.
“The acquisition by CNWL has not, and will not, disrupt current arrangements to the care we provide. So, for example, if you were visited by a district nurse, he or she will continue to visit and provide the same support as before.”
Claire is a registered nurse who joined the NHS when she was 23. She has undertaken a number of nursing and management roles in hospitals and community and mental health organisations and is now responsible for almost 7,000 staff.
Claire is already a familiar face in Milton Keynes, visiting on numerous occasions in the five weeks since CNWL took over.
She added: “I’m really pleased we create a sense of togetherness across the organisation even though we cover a wide geographical spread and a huge range of specialist and mainstream services.
“We somehow create a sense of ‘us’, I think that comes back to a real pride and interest in delivering patient care.”
However, Claire admits the organisation’s name can cause confusion, and maybe a lack of confidence.
But she stressed she is keen tochange it as it no longer reflects the areas it provides care, which includes Kent, Hampshire, Surrey and a third of the London population.
CNWL, one of the largest trusts in the UK, provides care for people with a wide range of physical and mental health needs including adult care, children’s services, denistry, diabetes and end-of-life care.
It won the contract to run those services from MK Community Health Services last year.
The move came despite concerns of patients and city MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart.
The MPs had favoured the preservation of a local service, with community health falling underthe legal authority of Milton Keynes Hospital.
For 10 years Milton Keynes Community Health Services has worked with the council to provide health services through integrated budgets and teams.
But the Strategic Health Authority ruled out plans to move services to the Hospital Trust.
Claire however, believes successful services need to be delivered and managed in partnership with local councils, other organisations and patients.
She said: “There are a lot of similarities between the values, culture and beliefs of the services in Milton Keynes and those across the rest of CNWL.
“Both have extremely high levels of professionalism, openness and staff who always put patient care first. These are just some of the values that I admire most in people who work in the NHS.”