FRODSHAM resident Janet Walker is flying the flag for Halton Hospital.
The retired businesswoman and former RAF aircraft mechanic has been elected a governor of the hospital in Runcorn, which is now operating as part of the new Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
As she settles into her role as a watchdog for the Trust’s South Mersey area, she feels it is important patients from Frodsham, Helsby and surrounding villages know they can choose to be treated at both Halton and Warrington hospitals as well as the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Janet said: “It worries me that some residents are still not aware that, under people’s choice, they can ask their GPs to refer them to either of these hospitals if they would prefer not to make a 24-mile round trip to Chester, and the regular free shuttle bus from between Halton and Warrington Hospitals is wonderful.”
The former North Cheshire NHS Trust was granted foundation status last month after independent regulator Monitor authorised the hospitals’ application following a rigorous assessment of all areas of operation, including finance, service development, safety, governance and risk.
Halton and Warrington hospitals met all the criteria and demonstrated they are performing well and have robust and sustainable plans for future development.
It is a major turnaround for the Trust, which only two years ago was in financial deficit. Since then it has paid off its historic debts, improved its national rating for quality of services and made major reductions in waiting times and hospital infection numbers, which are both now among the lowest in the North West.
“Our hospitals have improved beyond all recognition,” said Trust chairman Allan Massey. “As a foundation trust, the partner hospitals have greater financial control and are now more accountable to local people, rather than central Government.”
Patients, carers and local residents now have the opportunity to get involved in the hospitals by becoming members of the foundation trust, and Janet is one of more than 6,700 people who have already joined the organisation.
“It’s a responsible role, but I’ve never shirked responsibility and I see this as something I can do for the community,” said Janet, who has lived in Frodsham for 36 years and is well-known in the town as a Guide and Ranger leader.