The Island’s NHS has a new Chief Operating Officer. Karen Baker has taken over from Sheila Paul as leader of the wide range of healthcare services provided by NHS Isle of Wight.
Responsible for all acute hospital, community, mental health, prison health and ambulance services Karen took over the role from Sheila in April 2010.
Welcoming the appointment, NHS Isle of Wight Chief Executive, Kevin Flynn said: “I am very pleased that Karen has joined us as Chief Operating Officer. She has extensive experience of leadership across a wide range of health services.
Her leadership will be vital to the Island’s healthcare during what will be a challenging period as we strive to create sustainable health services for the Island.”
Karen joined the NHS in 1979 as a Student Nurse training at Guy’s Hospital in London. After working on the wards as a nurse she moved into midwifery, spending 10 years delivering babies. In 1995 Karen started her management career working in Basingstoke and most recently in Southampton. She has been responsible for a range of services including Maternity, Children’s, Emergency, Older People and Cancer.
Karen said, “This is a great time to join the NHS on the Island. I’m looking forward to working with the NHS Isle of Wight team to develop clinically led and quality focused services. Building on the work that Sheila started we now have four Clinical Directorates each led by three individuals who take equal leadership responsibility for the Directorate. The three posts – Clinical Director, an Associate Director and the Head of Clinical Services – make a strong leadership team and are tasked with building self managing operational units which, as they gain confidence, will achieve more autonomy.
“The current financial challenges we face come as no surprise. The NHS on the Island achieved savings of £11.85m last year (2009/10) and we must achieve over £7.5m in 2010/11. Like health services across the UK we must look closely at everything we do to ensure that every service operates on the most efficient basis and the best quality of service is provided.
“Sheila has overseen the development of a very good health service for the Island. I’m already working closely with clinical colleagues to deliver a sustainable health service for the Island. One which is more efficient by doing things differently. One which will improve quality and drive down costs. One which will take us from good to great.
“I have been getting around the organisation since I arrived on the Island in February and have already met many enthusiastic and committed people – cleaners, consultants, nurses, health care assistants, heads of services, managers, volunteers and many others. I am keen that we have an open culture in which everyone feels able to contribute to the development of services and that their views have been heard. This does not mean that we can please everyone all of the time nor can the organisation stand still. Services which do not adapt to changing circumstances will not survive and we must ensure, for the sake of Islanders and visitors, that our health services are sustainable into the future.
Karen and her partner live in Winchester. They have two children – one is at University and the other works in the NHS. Karen, a keen sailor and cyclist, is competing in the Round the Island Race on 19th June and in the Wight Challenge Triathlon in Freshwater in September.