Lesley Lock is hospital director of Nuffield Health Tees Hospital, Stockton-on-Tees. She chats to BQ about running a business, managing stress and her plans for the future.
What is it the company does?
Nuffield Health Tees Hospital, located in the village of Norton on the outskirts of Stockton-On-Tees, is one of the leading providers of private healthcare in the North East.
We are the only private hospital with an ‘outstanding’ Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating north of Leeds. We have been providing outstanding levels of care to patients from Stockton, Darlington, Middlesbrough and the surrounding areas since 1981. We also attract large numbers of patients from further afield, including North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Nuffield Health is a not-for-profit organisation which means we reinvest all our profits into better healthcare and facilities for patients. We treat a variety of patients from NHS referrals to self-funding and medically insured patients. Our specialist areas of treatment include spinal surgery, vascular surgery, eye care, cosmetic surgery and orthopaedics.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My remit is to ensure our services and patient care remains in the highest order and to help ensure that Nuffield Health retains its reputation as the premier provider of private expert medical care in the North of England. We see patients from private medical insurers and those wishing to pay for themselves. But many people don’t realise that Nuffield Health also treats NHS patients in a range of specialities, I want to change that.
I also want to raise awareness of Nuffield Health’s emphasis on prevention as well as treatment or cure. We have impressive physiotherapy and diagnostics suites in the hospital in addition to a full range of surgical and holistic treatments. We focus on all aspects of an individual’s health and well-being, providing bespoke services which make us specialists in the delivery of tailored healthcare and treatment.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I studied bio-medical sciences at Sunderland and Newcastle universities before joining NHS Newcastle, where I specialised in haematology and blood transfusion. From there, I moved to Nuffield Health in Newcastle as Pathology Services Manager and progressed through the ranks to join the senior management team as operations manager. I then left to set up my own company selling Fairtrade goods and did this successfully for 12 years before deciding I wanted to move back in to the health profession. In 2015 I took on the role of hospital director at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital to take forward plans for growth. When I left Nuffield the first time, I wanted to use my skills to do something I was passionate about. Fairtrade was not mainstream back then, but it was a challenging and rewarding time because you were helping people get what they deserved. Healthcare is similar because you are providing services people need.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Empowering your teams to create an open and honest culture where we respect and trust each member of the team to be working for a shared purpose. For us at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital it is to ‘put the patient at the centre of everything we do’ and my role as leader is to support my teams to make that happen.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I think the biggest challenge comes from the variety each day can bring and that comes from being the hospital director. Literally anything (and often everything) can land at your door and you need to respond to it all as if each was the most important thing you had on your ‘to do list’.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I enjoy gardening as you can completely escape from it all – the biggest decision is where to plant something and there are lots of experts out there to help with that.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be in healthcare, either as a doctor or as a manager.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Tardiness, whether in person or by not completing a task on time, which may have a knock on effect for other tasks. We have action logs that are generated from each meeting which helps keep us all on track – what we can’t do though is create extra time which is often why deadlines slip as we are all busy people.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
For us at Tees to continue to be an outstanding provider of care within our region and to reach out to more people through the holistic services we offer, whether that’s wellbeing, fitness, mental health support, charitable activities or indeed continuing to provide hospital treatment and care when that is needed.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Due diligence is important but you only regret what you didn’t do, not what you did. Take a risk and do it (albeit a calculated risk) and don’t shy away from those difficult decisions.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Treat everyone with respect and you will be respected as a leader.
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