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NEW IHEEM PRESIDENT


portering, cleaning and catering, all the estate maintenance and management, and capital development.”


In 2008 – with the opportunity to take a few miles off his car, since the daily round- trip from Ipswich to Southend involved a 120-mile drive, and to restore some work/ life balance, Paul Fenton secured a post as Associate Director of Estates and Facilities at mental health Trust, North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, based in Colchester. He explained: “Having spent time in three acute hospitals, I wanted to experience running the EFM activities in a mental healthcare setting on a very dispersed estate comprising about 80 properties. The Trust also had quite a large capital build programme, with plans for an older adults’ inpatient unit, a CAMHS unit, and a low secure unit.” In all, he spent seven and a half years at the Trust, taking on the role of Area Director, Business Infrastructure Services, in March 2011. He elaborated: “In 2011, I was given the Trust’s IT to manage. Although the technical aspects were a little outside my comfort zone, I was quite excited. My boss was going on holiday, and we had some problems with our IT section, and especially our Patient Information System. The ageing system was unstable, and typically failed several times each week. On returning to his native Australia for three weeks, my boss asked if I could keep an eye on IT, and, as he put it, ‘pop the hood and see what I can find’, letting him know on his return if there was anything that ‘worried me’.”


Concerned at system’s unreliability When the boss returned, Paul Fenton told him that, although ‘no IT expert’, he was concerned about the reliability,


releasing a £33 m receipt for the Trust. It was an interesting period in my career; the pace was slower than in the acute sector, but only in aspects such as not having an Accident & Emergency Department, blue light services arriving, and operating theatres to maintain. I was struck by how mental health services were being played second fiddle to the acute, but I’d like to think recognition of the importance of mental health was gaining pace during the period. The subject began being discussed more openly, and with one in four of us facing mental health issues even back then – the proportion must be higher today – the stigma started to dissipate. My eyes were well and truly opened over the breadth of mental health services.”


The site’s third MRI unit being craned into Ipswich Hospital last November.


functionality, and fragility of the bespoke, 17-year-old legacy system. Within weeks he was ‘given IT to sort out’, and asked to replace and migrate the Patient Information System to a mobile technology platform. With this, his title changed to Area Director for Business Infrastructure Services, where he not only managed all the Trust’s Estates & Facilities activities, but also all its Capital Development and procurement, as well as ICT. He said: “Also while with North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, I arranged the sale and disposal of the old 119-acre Severalls Hospital site in Colchester, the largest piece of NHS surplus development land in England,


Returning to his home town In September 2015, Paul Fenton moved to become Director of Estates and Facilities at the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, based at Ipswich Hospital. He said: “I am Ipswich born and bred, like all my family, and the hospital is where they – several generations – have been treated for many years. The hospital’s oldest parts date back to the late 19th century, but many of the buildings were built from the 1960s to the 1980s. We also have a 2009-built PFI, building housing our current Emergency Department, Intensive Care, and Day Case unit.” In the role, Paul Fenton was responsible both for the Trust’s Estates & Facilities services, with a revenue budget of over £32 m, delivery of its £12 m capital development programme, land acquisitions and disposals, leases, and estates and facilities contracts. He also delivered major construction projects such as the replacement of two MRI


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