James Scott has had a long and distinguished career in the NHS, retiring in May 2020 after 21 years as a CEO. He grew up in North Belfast and graduated from University of Lancaster in modern history.
He joined the management trainee scheme at Royal Insurance in Liverpool but lasted only nine months, as London beckoned. He joined St Stephens hospital in Chelsea as an agency porter, working night shifts in A&E and spending his break time reading Russian novels. He stepped into a supervisor role at St Peter’s Group of Hospitals and then he progressed to a number of management roles in different London hospitals. At St Marys Hospital during the time of the AIDS epidemic, he managed the largest sexually transmitted diseases clinic in Europe. His directorship at Chase Farm hospital led to his appointment as CEO at Yeovil District hospital at a time of financial crisis for the Trust. He turned the financial deficit into a surplus in his first year. He worked with a number of other CEOs to develop the initial Foundation Trust model for high performing hospitals. Yeovil became the first hospital in the country to deliver the Government’s 18 week constitutional waiting times target and he presented the outcomes to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
In June 2007 he came to the Royal United Hospital in Bath where he became the 7th CEO in just 6 years. The hospital is the largest employer in Bath with 5,500 members of staff. In 2007 he agreed a cash loan of £38m from the Government which the hospital has not only repaid but has also accumulated surpluses of £99m by 2020. The income from the growth of clinical services, have been used to invest in new buildings, digital services and equipment. The Dyson cancer centre has just been built and the hospital will receive further government funding to complete the hospital redevelopment. In 2016 the Trust also acquired the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases and relocated the hospital onto the main site. In 2018 the Care Quality Commission found the standard of caring to be ‘Outstanding’ with patients being treated with kindness and compassion throughout the Trust and that there was a strong safety culture with leadership that encourages openness.
During his time at Bath, he was also the Senior Responsible Officer for the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership for Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire leading the Acute Hospital Alliance across three acute hospitals. He was Vice Chairman of the West of England Academic Health Service Network, Chair of Western Clinical Research Network and Chairman of the West of England Patient Safety Collaborative.
RUH has strong links with Bath University both undertaking joint research projects and contributing to student teaching. More recently the University has been supporting the hospital in manufacturing and supplying PPE during the Covid-19 epidemic.
Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of his distinguished NHS career and for leading the transformation of the RUH I present James Scott to receive the Degree of Doctor of Health, honoris causa.