One of the NHS’s most senior figures visited St George’s Hospital to tell staff about the challenges and opportunities facing the organisation.

Sir Bruce Keogh, a former clinician at the hospital and currently Medical Director of NHS England, said the NHS had a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to improve services if it ignored mediocrity and made an opportunity out of adversity.

He compared the current challenges of a depressed economy with those immediately after the Second World War when the NHS was founded.

Sir Bruce said: “The NHS is in a fragile state given the economic climate but we are in a position to reinvent ourselves and become a world leader in healthcare.

“We need the NHS to become a cauldron for innovation and a go-to place for medical technology companies. Some challenges are incredibly complex and multi-layered but underpinning everything has to be the drive to provide better care for our patients.

“It sounds simple but getting it consistently right first time will have positive benefits across the whole organisation.

He highlighted three key measures that would help the NHS make the transition to a better organisation:

  • Empowering patients
  • Clinicians having a greater say in shaping services
  • Ensuring clinical outcomes are the everyday currency of the NHS

Sir Bruce said the appointment NHS England’s new chief executive Simon Stevens was a good choice describing him as ‘cerebral and charismatic’ and pointed to his vast commissioning experience in America where he oversaw a health organisation delivering services to 89 million people.

He added: “I’m looking forward to working with Simon. I think he is right person for the NHS at this time and will bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy with him.”

Sir Bruce also took questions from an audience of more than 200 people.

He touched on subjects including seven day a week services saying that a system that effectively shut down on a Friday night and restarted on Monday morning was not a compassionate one.

He also highlighted the fact that not enough attention was paid to the opinion of trainee doctors and nurses.

Sir Bruce added: “We know that many people between the ages of 20-40 are at their most energetic and creative and we are largely ignoring them which is a big mistake. They are the future of the NHS and we need to give them more opportunity to be involved and bring their ideas to the table.”