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Calderdale Royal Hospital: Mark Partington & Tracy Rawcliffe

Category: Hospitals

"I think the relationship now looks and feels very different to how it was four or five years ago. The service providers are very much part of the team; they sit on our board and we try and include them as much as we can. We have an open book approach in terms of our management, issues and policies and procedures. They bring different things to the party, for example, innovation from the PFI industry. There's alot we can learn from them as a private sector company and are sometimes strides ahead of us."

Mark Partington, Director of Operations, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust

May, 2008

Operational in April 2001, the Calderdale Royal Hospital is a modern centre of excellence and provides significantly improved accommodation compared with the Victorian buildings which previously housed many of the healthcare services. Officially opened by the Princess Royal in March 2004 and situated just south of Halifax,  the hospital offers a full range of day case and outpatient services and an accident and emergency department. It is also the specialist centre for planned orthopaedic and general surgery for the residents of Calderdale, Kirklees and further afield.

The PPP Forum interviewed Mark Partington (Director of Operations) and Tracy Rawcliffe (Service Performance Manager) who both work for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.

How would you describe your relationship with the private sector provider?

"We've all matured a lot in the relationship over the years. At first both us and the service providers had a transactional approach to the relationship. There was a lot of reverting to the Concession Agreement, which continued for the first couple of years.  

Since 2003 I think there has been a coming together and we have all realised that this is a long-term partnering agreement. There's goodwill on both sides and we don't now automatically revert to the Concession Agreement. I think the relationship now looks and feels very different to how it was four or five years ago. The service providers are very much part of the team; they sit on our board and we try and include them as much as we can. We have an open book approach in terms of our management, issues and policies and procedures. They bring different things to the party, for example, innovation from the PFI industry. There's alot we can learn from them as a private sector company and are sometimes strides ahead of us."

 A true public private partnership?

 "Yes! Exactly."

 How is the PFI contract running?

 "Day to day the contract is running fine. The Concession Agreement was a very early one which I think favours the service provider rather than the Trust from a performance point of view. However I'm not saying we have poor service delivery, because we don't. In  our performance management arrangements and PEAT scores we do very well. When the Healthcare Commission and PEAT inspection teams visit the hospital, our service providers have been very responsive to make sure that their services match what we need in order to be considered a well performing Trust; it's not in the interests of the service providers to have a poor PEAT score. Also they use us as a reference site for a lot of their new business, so it's as much in their interests as it is in ours for them to provide a good service. We haven't got a lot of issues or a backlog of maintenance."

 Does the variation process work?

 "It seems to. We make sure we involve everybody, and we can because the relationships are there."

 Do you think it's beneficial to have a long term contract?

 "The hospital is 6 to 7 years old now and it doesn't look too bad. It's been looking a bit tired in some areas but the service providers have put that right, so we have no major issues. It is a nice site.

 We're an integrated Trust now - with one PFI hospital here and one non-PFI hospital in Huddersfield. The difference is quite stark between the two sites. Huddersfield is a typical 1960s NHS build. Calderdale is a modern hospital which I think meets the demands of modern patients and modern consumers. For example, there are lots more single rooms and lots more bathrooms. In addition, because we were able to design it from scratch, Calderdale has greater clinical functionality."

 What is the feedback like from people who work in the hospital?

 "When it's OK you don't hear anything, and when it's not alright you do! On balance the clinicians appear to like the hospital; the newness of it, the fact that it's clean and bright. There are concerns from clinicians about space but clinicians will always want more space; this is not a PFI issue."

 What are your thoughts on PFI?

 "I'm quite philosophical about it. I realise that PFI has received some bad press. My view is that however you resource and fund a 400-bed District General Hospital, they are expensive buildings and environments to create. There is no way you can get around this."