A top health official based at the Royal Berkshire Hospital has been grilled by councillors over the key goals it is hoping to achieve in the next three years.

Councillors scrutinised the hospital trust’s revised Draft Strategy, which was first formed in 2018 and is undergoing review.

The strategy is based around five strategic objectives: 1) providing the best quality of care for all; 2) investing in people and ‘living out our values’; 3) deliver in partnership; 4) cultivate innovation and improvement and 5) achieving long term sustainability.

Questions were raised over use of language in the strategy, procedures relating to complaints and whisteblowing, and how the elderly will fare with new technology being introduced.

The questions were answered by Matthew Hayward, head of strategy and planning at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative, Emmer Green) asked Mr Hayward what the Trust meant in its strategy document when it referred to “keeping ahead of the pack”, implying it is in competition with other Trusts as well as the private sector.

Mr Hayward said: “You make a good point there. Feedback we got from clinical directors with our primary care partners was how we talk about becoming the best and most inclusive place to work in the NHS.

“We don’t necessarily want to be the best at expense of our partners so that’s language we’re going to amend.

“As a district general hospital, we’re punching above our weight. We want to retain that aspect and continue that.”

Councillor Louise Keane (Green, Katesgrove) asked what procedures will be in place to deal with complaints, concerns and protecting whistle-blowers.

Mr Hayward explained that the Trust is currently engaged in a “continuous quality improvement journey” which involves assessing what is currently being done and how the Trust can improve outcomes in key areas.

He said: “Patient experience is one of those, there’s going to be a whole workstream around what are the right metrics there to capture complaints and satisfaction. That’s a big focus.

“The same kind of work is going into staff experience, building a culture of learning is one of the focuses there, that will include creating safe space to raise issues without fear of retribution.”

Cllr Gul Khan (Labour, Battle) asked where senior citizens fall into the strategic aim of increasing the use of digitial and artificial intelligence technology, implying the elderly may struggle to use such technology going forward.

Mr Hayward replied that the Trust’s digital services are currently limited and staff focused, and that any leaps in technology which may prove difficult for the elderly would involve working closely with the Trust’s health inequalities group to prepare patients.

He then said innovations could be focus grouped with elderly patients, a strategy he learned when working in the USA.

Mr Hayward said: “What we did observe is that, most of the time, when using a new tool, seniors found that really empowering, rather than frustrating.”

The questions were fielded by Mr Hayward at a meeting of the council’s adult social care, children’s services and education committee on Wednesday, July 13.

Mr Hayward and his team will continue to work on the strategy for publication at a later date.