West Suffolk NHS trust chief exec jumps to third place in top 50 CEO rankings

The chief executive of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) has shot to third place in the Health Service Journal’s annual assessment of the top 50 NHS trust chief executives.

Jumping five places from eighth place last year, this is the second time Dr Stephen Dunn CBE has been placed in the rankings.

Judges were asked to assess chief executives on three criteria: leadership style and personal example; the performance of their trust against peers; and their contribution to the wider health system.

It was noted that Stephen ‘now runs the best small hospital in the country and is establishing a reputation as one of the NHS’ very few tech savvy trust CEOs.’

Now in his fifth year at the Trust, rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, Stephen was awarded a CBE in the 2018 Queens New Year Honours list for services to health and patient safety.

Trust chair Sheila Childerhouse said: “Stephen works tirelessly to motivate and encourage staff to be the best they can be and deliver the best quality and safest care for the local community. He consistently drives a culture of openness, innovation and supportive leadership across the Trust in order to achieve the best results possible. Staff are receptive to this and, as our latest NHS staff survey results show, they feel strongly that they are given control and choice over how they do their work.”

Stephen said: “I am delighted to have been listed again and to have climbed up the rankings to third place. However, as always, this recognition is accepted on behalf of the entire West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust staff. We continue to see and care for more and more people and our staff work so hard to ensure we deliver high-quality, compassionate care for our patients.

One area that is enabling the Trust to do this more effectively is its exploration of technology. Last year WSFT worked with colleagues at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to allow clinicians at either site to access clinical information on a patient that’s held at the other trust. This was the first link in the UK between hospitals’ electronic health record systems that were provided by two different suppliers.

A recent Government announcement has said that pagers, or bleeps as they are known in the NHS, need to be removed by the end of 2021. Stephen explained: “I was exceptionally proud that our Trust was held up as a national example for others to follow, as we’re already well on our way to removing non-emergency bleeps through a fantastic app called ‘Medic Bleep’.

“The app improves real-time communication between our clinicians, which means they no longer have to ‘bleep’ a number and wait by a phone for someone to call them back. This really isn’t technology for technology’s sake; in our trial of the app it saved our junior doctors an average of 48 minutes per shift, and our nurses 21 minutes per shift. The time they save can be put into what they love and do best – caring for patients. So we benefit, but our patients benefit too.

Stephen continued: “We’ve been very lucky at WSFT that our technology ambitions have always been supported and embraced by our staff, even when it’s meant major changes in processes. We certainly like to dream big where tech and digital advancements are concerned, and I look forward to seeing what the next few years not only brings us, but brings our community and our patients.”