Departing James Paget University Hospital chairman David Wright reflects on his time in post

Christine Allen, chief executive of James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, and board chairman

Christine Allen, chief executive of James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, and board chairman David Wright. - Credit: Archant

When the James Paget University Hospital board met on Friday, it was the final time its current chairman lead proceedings.

David Wright, who has held the post since 2012, is stepping down at the end of the month, after overseeing a turnaround for the hospital while in the role.

He arrived at a difficult time - shortly before he arrived the hospital was warned by regulatory body the Care Quality Commission to make urgent improvements to its standards of care.

Mr Wright, who has a rich background in social care, said this was a big part of his motivation to take on the post.

He said: 'I have always liked the James Paget, and when I worked in social care always found it to be a lovely hospital with friendly, hardworking staff.

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'However, it had just received severe criticism and I felt it needed somebody to help it pull through this period and perceived myself as being able to make a contribution.'

On his appointment, the former head of social services for Norfolk set about bringing stability to the hospital - initially setting himself the target of appointing a permanent chief executive and executive team.

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He also set a number of other targets, including achieving a 'good' result from the CQC and financial stability.

'I feel in my time I've been able to tick all the boxes I set out at the beginning, which is part of the reason I have decided to stand down,' he said. 'However, this was far from the only factor in my decision. Overall it just seems to be the right time for me.'

The hospital is currently at the beginning of a new sustainability and transformation plan, a five year project addressing different areas of the care on offer, which added to Mr Wright's decision to leave.

He said: 'I knew I wouldn't be continuing for the full duration of the plan, so felt it would be stupid for me to stand down halfway through a project like this - so decided it would be better that a new chairman be in place to see it through.

'With the council of governors also up for election in July, it makes sense for me to step aside now.'

The hospital was rated as good in its latest CQC inspection which Mr Wright was particularly proud of, however he did acknowledge there are some things he would have done differently given the opportunity.

'I think if I was given the chance to have my time here again I think I would have put a lot more focus on partnership earlier,' he said. 'The hospital works hard to build healthy partnerships across the health service - from GPs to social care and the overarching community, however, I feel this is something we could have focused on sooner.

'If I had pushed the importance of partnership work more, then perhaps we wouldn't be seeing quite so much pressure on the hospital's front door.

'Another thing I feel particularly strongly about is the welfare of the hospital's staff. They all work extremely hard, working long hours under a great deal of stress.

'I would like to have been able to do more to help alleviate stress more, however, it is so difficult working within the means we have.'

In retirement, Mr Wright, 70, is looking forward to travelling and spending more time with his wife Sue and family.

He said: 'I have nine grandchildren, seven of which live in Australia, so I have more of an opportunity to visit them.

'I am also looking forward to having the opportunity to write about some of my experiences working in health care. I'm planning on starting a blog on it to begin with, but may explore further publishing options.'

He will be succeeded by current vice chairman Anna Davidson, who has set her first target as achieving an outstanding report from the CQC.

Mr Wright added: 'Anna has already stated she wants to move from good to outstanding, which I think is a very good objective to have.

'It is much more difficult to make things sparkle than it is to achieve a good verdict. However, I am confident that if anybody can achieve this, it is her and I wish her the best of luck.'

He chaired his final board meeting on Friday, April 28, before Ms Davidson takes up the mantle on May 1.

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