60 seconds with Clive Kay

The new King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive talks about his priorities and NHS highlights

Clive KayWhat are your top priorities in your first three-to-six months?

First and foremost, I am going to get out and about and meet as many teams and services as I can. I want to get to know staff in their own environment and listen carefully to their views - not only what worries them but what makes them proud to be part of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. I want to hear about their ideas to improve patient care, working better together and see if their ideas can be applied more widely.

In the last few weeks I’ve briefly met some teams but now I’ve started I’ve set aside specific time each week.

Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the Trust’s performance and financial position. In the last year, a great deal was achieved including signing clinical commissioning group (CCG) contracts for 2019/20. However, we need to significantly improve our overall performance not only so we can come out of financial special measures but also secure our future. We need to keep the momentum going and when we need to, make the right and sometimes tough decisions that need to be taken.

Finally, I want to ensure that all staff are aligned to the Trust’s vision and values. First, we will press ahead with the work we have already started on the Trust’s vision that some people have already been involved with. When any organisation is under stress, it’s also incredibly important to hold onto, and live its values. They define who we are, how we treat and interact with one another and create that sort of environment that enables positive challenge and change.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A former consultant colleague of mine always used to say: ‘the best way to be successful is to appoint people better than yourself.’

I have always tried to follow this approach, and then, in my words: ‘let them get on with the job.’

Are there any leaders in the healthcare sector or elsewhere, who you really admire and why?

Whilst not singling out any individual, there is no doubt in my mind that successful leaders in healthcare are those who take significant time and effort to listen to those actually delivering care, and work with colleagues to deliver evidence-based solutions, very often co-designed with a range of stakeholders including patients and carers.

Tell us about one of the highlights in your career in the NHS?

As CEO (chief executive officer) in Bradford, I was always particularly proud to be associated with ‘Project SEARCH'– a pre-employment programme for young adults with a learning disability. Created by Cincinnati Children's Hospital in 1996, it helps these young adults gain meaningful work experience and ultimately employment in a range of organisations. The Project SEARCH model is now used by organisations globally. We launched it four years ago at Bradford Teaching Hospitals and it has been incredibly successful. The highlight was hosting the annual graduation ceremony - it was a real honour.