Episode 9. Backstage with Joe Harrison.


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This conversation is with Joe Harrison, Chief Executive of Milton Keynes University Hospitals NHS Trust (MKUH), and one of the most inspiring hospital leaders I've ever come across.

Joe's been at MKUH since 2013, having spent decades working in acute hospitals. His focus has been on technology, improving staff wellbeing, and patient safety. MKUH's achievements on these fronts are remarkable, and Joe's thoughtful and caring leadership style are a testament to this.

For example, MKUH have spent the last three years trailblazing in the digital world of health care, and already have more than 70,000 patients registered to their MyCARE app which allows them to book and change appointments, access hospital correspondence and information from their smartphone. Recently they became one of the first hospitals in the UK to enable patients to view their consolidated health care records directly within the Health app on their iPhone.

To improve staff wellbeing they've worked hard to introduce a range of benefits in recent years, including free car parking for all staff, free tea and coffee in all staff rooms; and enhanced staff health and wellbeing services – particularly around stress and musculoskeletal conditions, enhanced bereavement leave, special leave and flexible working.

Joe is married to Samantha Jones, a nurse by background who has also had a successful career in the NHS, which you can hear more about in Episode 2. They have 11-year old twins, and are really open about how they work hard to make sure family comes first.

In this episode we dig a bit deeper, and explore how he got to his current role, why he cares about the things he does, and what it's been like leading a hospital trust during Covid:


  • Failing his A levels (4 mins)
  • Becoming a hospital chief exec (6 mins)
  • Advice he'd pass on from the jobs he's done (10 mins)
  • Highs and lows of his job (13 mins)
  • What keeps him awake at night (15.5 mins)
  • Why he's chosen to focus on staff wellbeing (23 mins)
  • The digital transformation at MK (26 mins)
  • His vision for MK going forwards (32 mins)
  • Leading through Covid as a hospital chief exec (36 mins)
  • Work-life blend (40 mins)
  • Final questions- a recommended resource, a leader he sees as a role model, and top tips (41.5 mins)


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