Publish date: 9 January 2023

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It’s a What Do You Do with a difference as we look at the role of our Chair.

David Whitney has had a long and rich history within the NHS and its partner organisations, seeing plenty of change along the way. Reflecting on his time at DHU and what we can expect in 2023, here’s what he had to say…

“I started out at Westminster Hospital before joining the Kings College Hospital as Director of Strategy and then Moorfields in London as Deputy Chief Executive. I moved up north as Regional Director of Strategy and Performance at the Trent Regional Health Authority, Chief Executive of Central Sheffield University hospitals and then, after the two Sheffield trusts merged, I spent several years in academia, running the NHS leadership program for doctors.

“At Sheffield University I ran the Health Policy Masters program alongside non-exec roles at High Peak and Dales Primary Care Trust and Chesterfield Royal Hospital before finally becoming the Chairman of DHU where I’ve been fortunate to Chair for the last eight years.

“As Chair, I try not to get in the way of the excellent operational side of the organisation. Our Executive and Senior Leadership teams are highly experienced throughout the system and it’s my job to support them. The high-quality services and patient care that DHU provides is really down to their organisation and their determination, commitment and skills of our frontline.

“I've also never met a more innovative organization. DHU has created new services when our patients have needed us. For example, Covid-19, where we set up both the testing and vaccinating programs literally overnight; it's just incredible. Our front-line colleagues deal with an increasingly challenging workload, particularly with the emergence of the pandemic and recent industrial action involving nurses and the ambulance service.

“This past year has seen big system changes with the introduction of the new Integrated Care Boards. We’ll be working very closely with them to take a more joined up approach to the care we deliver across all system partners. We're not short of innovative approaches to reshaping that pathway for the benefit of patients, things like the Winter Hub that we launched in Derbyshire; we need to continue making things like that happens. But we're at the table and we've got great people.

“Of course the biggest news was the announcement that we’ll be taking on the West Midlands NHS111 contract next year. We've stepped up magnificently and I went over there a month or so ago to meet both new and existing staff who were coaching at the time. It was wonderful  to see the Birchfield House and see how the new staff are settling in, many of whom had never worked in healthcare and were joining the team from other industries such as retail and hairdressing. With very close supervision and coaching we’ve now started to provide the contingency service on behalf of NHS England. DHU is one of the few contingency providers, which means when other parts of the system can't cope with their capacity, we take some of the calls to reduce the pressure.

“It’s a great privilege and pleasure to welcome this new team who are all coming to what I believe is a fantastic organization. We’re all mightily impressed with the progress that's already been made and it's incredible to see how fast it’s all coming together.

“I’m looking forward to 2023. DHU is in a great place to continue to grow, develop and even improve on the high-quality care we are so well known for. There are challenges and opportunities ahead, there always is, but I’m sure that, as we have done over the eight years I’ve been here, DHU will go from strength to strength. I’ll be stepping down in a year or so’s time, but I’ll be proud to leave DHU knowing that we're in a great place and look forward to seeing you all before then.”

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