A NEW chief executive has taken the helm at Scarborough Hospital during what promises to be one of the most critical times in the trust’s history.
Mike Proctor has joined Scarborough’s trust board from the executive team at York as discussions progress about the two organisations linking together as one.
Following the departure of Richard Sunley earlier this month to take up a post in Hull, Mr Proctor will become Scarborough’s fifth chief executive in as many years.
He is now seeking to reassure patients and staff that he is here for the long haul.
A registered nurse with 36 years’ experience in the NHS, Mr Proctor says he is committed to making the two organisations work together as one for the benefit of everyone.
He said: “Scarborough needs the services this hospital provides, but to deal with the volume of patients the trust needs to attract and pay for a significant number of medical and nursing staff.
“At Scarborough there has never been the income to maintain that. The system simply wasn’t geared up to make places like this work – and many have tried.”
Mr Proctor believes that a link-up with York is the only real way forward but insists that services, wherever possible, should remain in Scarborough.
He said: “The vast majority of services need to remain here. There is a great worry that services will be lost, but we wish to invest in services.
“The idea of people going down the A64 is just nonsense – York is already full. We have to deliver a sustainable future here and I believe we have to do that as a single organisation.”
Scarborough trust approached York in November with the proposal of a partnership. This came about as bosses at Scarborough believed the trust would not meet Government requirements and achieve Foundation Trust status by 2013.
Since then the two executive teams have been working together on the link-up, which could go ahead by April 1, 2012 if approved by Monitor, the independent regulator of Foundation Trusts.
Mr Proctor, whose most recent post was deputy chief executive at York, recognises that this will not be an easy process and the merger will throw up many challenges along the way.
He said: “It’s a massive task, but Scarborough hasn’t been able to achieve stability in the last 10 years, it won’t achieve it in the next 10 without change.
“However, we will need help over the next few years. Joining with York is not like waving a magic wand.”
Since Mr Proctor took up his new post on March 7, he has been getting to know people and listening to what staff have to say.
He said: “The welcome I’ve had in this organisation has been fantastic.
“Scarborough has had many kickings over the years and I expected a fairly demoralised workforce, but it’s not like that at all.
“The place is buzzing really. People seem positive about working with York and they are desperate for stability.
“It’s not going to be plain sailing, but everyone seems positive at the moment.”
Mr Proctor also wants to be clear that there is a lot that York can learn from Scarborough, not just the other way round.
He said: “I genuinely believe that we can pick up the best of both organisations. I’m already seeing things here that can be done to improve certain areas at York.
“The new ward that has just opened at Scarborough is better than any at York - the set-up and space are just great.”
However he does accept that Scarborough trust has significant challenges to overcome, such as its financial issues and ageing buildings.
Mr Proctor said: “Parts of the hospital pre-date the NHS and the environment is tough to deliver top-quality care.
“People can mistake a tired environment for the fact it is dirty, when actually it could be spotless.”
He said his immediate function is really to “keep the train on the rails” while all the changes are going on, adding: “My job is to do the best I possibly can for the people of Scarborough.”