Meet the new Chief Executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust

The new chief executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Steve Russell, has revealed his ambitions for the future of Harrogate Hospital.
The new chief executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Steve Russell, has revealed his ambitions for the future of Harrogate Hospital.

The new chief executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust has revealed his ambitions for the future of Harrogate Hospital.

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Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser, Steve Russell, who is the former deputy chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, emphasised that he didn’t want to just take up his post with all guns blazing, presenting grand ideas for ambitious capital projects and investments - instead, he wants to get to know all of his colleagues across the district first to carefully establish what their needs are.

Mr Russell believes that by striving to make Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT) the best place to work in the NHS in the country, and prioritising what staff need, patients will then in turn receive the best possible care.

He said: “I very firmly believe that patients get much better care when colleagues are well looked after, happy, and feel well-supported at work and engaged in what they are doing. I want to make HDFT the best place to work in the country, because I think if we do that, then patients who come to HDFT will get the best possible care.

“One of the things that troubles me a bit, and we haven’t got a solution for this yet, is we’ve got fantastic staff, caring for patients in environments that aren’t always as good as we would like - and so I’d love for us to be able to invest some resource into improving the ward environments in particular, and our infrastructure isn’t as good as I would like it to be.

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“In fact, it’s one of the things that staff have said to me a lot - that their work is made a bit harder by the fact that our IT infrastructure is a bit old. Building new wings and all the rest of it is lovely, but using our resource to try and make it easy for our colleagues to do the right thing for our patients is really important. I’d definitely like to see us achieve that over the next few years.”

Focusing on the day-to-day ways that buildings and infrastructure can be improved is just one of Mr Russell’s priorities - though he believes that he’s the last person who should be designing a ward.

He said: “The best people to work out what they would like to see is the staff who work in these environments. Some of our wards haven’t got very much storage space, so it means that stuff ends up on the corridors and that makes it a bit more difficult for staff and the patients There are some other ways wards are designed that means it isn’t perhaps as easy for the nursing staff in particular, as brand new wards would be.”

Speaking about the biggest challenges that HDFT faces, Mr Russell said: “One challenge is workforce - we are fortunate at HDFT because we are generally able to recruit people and they often stay with us, but we still have areas that we struggle to recruit to as much as we would like

“And I think capital funding is quite a big issue for Harrogate - again, it’s a big issue for the rest of the NHS. As life develops around us and people use digital and technology much more, we are failing to keep up. People’s expectations are moving ahead of our ability to keep up, and that’s also true generally in the NHS.”

Celebrating achievement and getting to know his extraordinary colleagues across all services is something that Mr Russell is ultimately looking forward to the most - he said he’s also looking forward to building on the great work of his predecessor, Dr Ros Tolcher.