‘I leave with tremendous pride’ - chief executive Dorothy Hosein says goodbye to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn

Departing QEH chief executive Dorothy Hosein. Picture: Ian Burt

Departing QEH chief executive Dorothy Hosein. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The woman who led a hospital out of special measures says she is proud of the staff who have helped her to transform it.

Dorothy Hosein began her final day at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital wondering how Brexit might affect its hundreds of foreign nurses, as Theresa May's letter landed on the EU's doormat.

Every one of the wards they work on has seen improvements over the last three years, while the QEH's stroke unit has been named one of the best in the country and mums-to-be have a revamped maternity service. There have also been improvements in A&E, breast care and infection control at the 480-bed hospital which serves West Norfolk and the Fens.

'I leave with tremendous pride in my organisation,' said Mrs Hosein. 'I'm going with that pride because we've all worked together. We've done a lot of great things around its operational performance, which is most important for patients. The hospital has really punched above its weight this winter.'

Spikes in demand from numbers of frail elderly patients meant so-called escalation beds had to be brought into use. That meant more than £1.2m a month hiring expensive agency staff, which has left the QEH predicted to end the year £18.5m - around 10pc of its annual budget - in the red.

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'It's been a very difficult winter,' said Mrs Hosein. 'We didn't have a bed to spare a lot of the time but we've risen to the challenge.'

At times more than 45 extra beds were in use. Cuts in social care mean people end up in hospital because there is nowhere else. Mrs Hosein's successor, Jon Green, will inherit tough financial targets. Recruitment is still an issue at the hospital, which currently has more than 100 nursing vacancies.

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Mrs Hosein said several foreign nurses had come to see her with concerns how Brexit might affect them. She added: 'We've had a lot of reassuring sessions with them.'

When she arrived the QEH was in special measures, because of low staffing levels long waiting times and poor financial performance. As she clears her desk, she said: 'I take huge pride in my staff as I'm leaving here. I'm leaving the organisation on a very firm footing - we've improved enormously.

'It's all down to us working together. My legacy, my one message, is stay clinically-focussed.'

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