2013 was quite a year for St George’s and 2014 promises to be equally exciting.

In 12 months I hope to be blogging about becoming a Foundation Trust; our new helipad; plans for bigger and better facilities and a faster time for me than last year in the London marathon!

It’s certainly going to be a busy year ahead and it starts with getting ready for a rigorous Care Quality Commission inspection.

Over a fortnight in February, twelve teams of inspectors will be scrutinising every (and I do mean every!) aspect of the services we provide in hospital and in the community.

Inspections are onerous, stressful and strangely rewarding. Results from last year prove we can make huge improvements so I am hopeful that the inspectors’ pencils will be hovering over the “outstanding” box when they come to the all-important judgement of our care!

This or “good” would see us through to the next stage of achieving Foundation Trust status. We are a long way there already and took a major step forward when we welcomed our newly elected governors to the organisation last month. Their involvement will bring fresh input from the communities we serve.

2014 has started with concern about ‘NHS-bashing’. Nationally, the service came in for a lot of criticism last year which is why the letters I get from pleased patients and their relatives mean such a lot. Stories of amazing care, kindness of staff and treatment focused on the person and not the illness really do brighten my days and put a smile on the face of colleagues involved. Please keep ‘em coming! And please also continue telling me when things haven’t gone well. Lessons are learnt, I can assure you.

For anyone who lives near St George’s Hospital, I should warn you of additional overhead noise. Work on our new helipad is nearing completion and a vital part of testing it out includes practice air ambulance flights during March.

I hope you agree that this inconvenience is a small price to pay for the huge benefit the helipad will bring. The hospital is a major trauma centre and deals with very seriously injured patients. The sooner we can get them here, the better.

The helipad is one of many new facilities the trust is investing in. Our biggest investment by far though is in our staff and I am pleased that we are continuing with a programme called Listening into Action which is led by colleagues at all levels and is having a positive impact on our services.

An IT upgrade programme has been accelerated; more patients now have cardiac surgery on the day they’re admitted rather than coming in the night before; orthopaedic surgery now runs more efficiently and patients waiting for news of cardiac assessments will soon wait just a few days or even hours for results rather than several weeks. These are just a few examples of what can be done when staff are given the go-ahead to make their ideas a reality.

Happy New Year!