Clare Panniker has been with the NHS for more than 25 years, leading change and improving the quality of healthcare wherever she has worked. She is currently Chief Executive of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals, and Lead Chief Executive of an innovative new “group management” model, which consists of Basildon Hospitals, Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust, and Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust.
Clare has perhaps the ideal background for a successful career in health services management – she is both a qualified nurse and a business graduate. So it’s no surprise that she boasts such an impressive record of achievement.
Prior to joining Basildon Hospital, Clare was Chief Executive of North Middlesex University Hospital for nine years, where she is credited with radically transforming the organisation’s performance and culture. Yet it was shortly after joining Basildon that she faced her greatest challenge to date.
Following an inspection by the NHS Medical Director in July 2013, the Health Secretary announced that Basildon was to be one of 11 trusts put into special measures for failing to reach appropriate standards of care.
As a recent arrival at Basildon, Clare had identified the hospital’s failings and had already put in place robust measures to turn performance around. She recognised that hospital bosses had to be more visible, so she implemented a programme of closer engagement, with managers visiting wards to hear the views of patients and staff first-hand.
She invited patients to Hospital Board Meetings, encouraging them to share their experiences. And she changed the hospital’s organisational structure, putting doctors and nurses at the heart of the decision-making process. Clare also authorised the hiring of many more clinical staff, putting greater emphasis on delivering the best possible care, right around the clock.
By November 2013, after a second visit, the NHS inspection team endorsed the positive transformation. And following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in March 2014, Basildon received a “good” rating, while their maternity care was the first in the country to be rated outstanding.
Subsequently, Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, recommended that Basildon should be the first foundation trust to be taken out of special measures.
Clare’s vision, courage and dedication have helped to raise standards of healthcare provision and created a positive impact on the lives of patients and staff. And today, she carries responsibility for shaping the future development of the healthcare landscape of our region.
Her professionalism and talent provide a shining example of NHS leadership at its very best. And as a mentor for aspiring NHS leaders, both from clinical and management backgrounds, she will be an inspirational role model for our students.