Change is challenge

Beverly Lester is retiring as chairman of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Beverly Lester is retiring as chairman of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
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For the last 10 years, Beverly Lester has worked tirelessly to help improve other people’s health.

Today she’s putting her feet up – in a manner of speaking. She will be spending more time in the garden and more time with her husband, grandchildren and her three dogs.

Some much-earned rest and recuperation await the retiring chairman of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust after her last day in the role.

In the past decade, Beverly has seen major changes in the NHS – including major advances in technology and medicine, improvements in patient care and the advent of primary care trusts – soon to be abolished.

At a local level she has seen the organisation through some of its most challenging times financially and seen it become both a Foundation Trust and teaching hospitals trust.

Beverly, who was a divorce lawyer for 30 years, says: “It just felt about the right time, at 10 years. I thought that was a good landmark really.

“It has been an enjoyable time and I will still be looking on from afar and interested in what’s going on.”

Beverly first got involved with the NHS 18 years ago, when she became a non-executive director at the hospital trust as it was then.

She added: “I’d always been interested in health and the NHS and then when the role of chairman came up, I applied for it.”

The job involved meetings about all aspects of the running of the trust, visiting wards – including A&E at 1.30am – to see what staff deal with on a regular basis, sitting on various committees including research and development and incidents and complaints, as well as patient experience.

Beverly has seen many changes in the NHS nationally and locally. And all the highs and lows of course.

And she is under no illusion that the planned changes for the NHS, and the current cutbacks in Government spending, will pose a challenge both for the local trust and the health service as a whole. But she also maintains it could be an exciting opportunity.

She adds “I think there is a big financial challenge. I think the savings required by Government this year were £17m and next year will probably be £16m.

“And the challenge is, of course, to cut costs while offering patients modern facilities and an improved and efficient service and high-quality care.

“It will be a time of great change, with primary care trusts going and commissioning groups coming into play.

“It’s an opportunity to treat more patients in their own home or in the community, rather than them have to come to hospital when it’s not necessary.”

One of the highlights for Beverly has been working with the people she has met within the health service, as well as the Gazette-backed Celebrating Success Awards.

“The commitment, hard work and determination of staff is clear. Overall, the staff are brilliant,” she adds.

“And I think the awards has been one of the highlights and the atmosphere at the event is fantastic.

“It is chance to hear about all the good work that’s happening and long may it continue.”

Other highlights which stand out for her over the years at the trust include the opening of the Lancashire Cardiac Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, the development of the new women’s and children’s unit, the opening of Duncan House – which provides accommodation for families of leukaemia patients to stay near the hospital while they having treatment, the use of a new fast-track test for and virtual elimination of hospital-acquired superbugs MRSA and C-Diff and the development of local mission statement the Blackpool Way.

She also has good memories of the recent visit by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Beverly concludes: “I really can’t stress enough how the main emphasis for me has been working with a good team.

“It’s been a terrific job to do and I wish every success to my successor Ian Johnson.”

Mr Johnson, has more than 30 years’ experience in the legal profession and has worked at a number of prestigious international law firms.

He says: “It is a very exciting time for the trust as it looks forward to community health services coming on-board and the opportunities this will bring to improve our services. I’m looking forward to working with staff across the trust to support the organisation in going from strength to strength. It’s clear the trust has a loyal and dedicated workforce extremely committed to providing high-quality care.”

emma.harris@ blackpoolgazette.co.uk