New Years Honours: Woman who gave kiss-of-life to ailing hospital trust is made a Dame

Alwen Williams gets Damehood in New Years Honours

Alwen Williams, Barts NHS chief executive, gets Damehood in New Years Honours - Credit: Barts NHS (inset) and Rii Schroer

The woman who turned round five east London hospitals out of special measures and chronic debt has been given a Damehood in the New Year Honours. 

The List also includes six others in health care and education in east London. 

Alwen Williams, who already has a CBE, is made a Dame for “outstanding leadership” in her NHS career spanning 40 years. 

She has dealt with several crises and is now dealing with the Covid emergency to make sure the hospitals can cope. 

The new Royal London Hospital complex 

The new Royal London Hospital complex - Credit: Mike Brooke

Her administration as Barts Health NHS Trust chief executive, based at Whitechapel, is responsible for running the Royal London, Mile End, Newham University, Whipps Cross and St Bartholemew’s hospitals, as well as administering the Nightingale Covid emergency centre in the Royal Docks. 

New specialist Covid ward at Royal London Hospital

New specialist Covid ward opened by Barts Health trust during pandemic - Credit: Barts NHS

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Alwen transformed Britain’s biggest NHS hospital trust, serving a population of 2.5 million, from its troubled times when it was put in special measures by the CQC health services regulatory authority. 

The trust was wracked with incidents that inspectors found over higene issues, standards of clinical care and some operation procedures that had gone wrong. 

The new Royal London Hospital complex 

The new £7bn Royal London Hospital complex that landed Barts Health NHS Trust in debt - Credit: Barts NHS

Critics in 2015  said its medical funds were at risk of being diverted at a time when its budget was in the red, with the trust paying for the new £7 billion Royal London complex in Whitechapel that was financed from commercial loans.

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Alwen took over the troubled Barts & The London Trust just two months after the criticism and began her reforms, with its rebranding and its expansion into Newham and Waltham Forest as “Barts Health”, to begin the “sick patient” recovery.  

The rebranded hospital trust just five years on is now a sustainable organisation forecasting its financial break-even by 2021 and most of its medical services now rated “good” or “outstanding”. 

“Alwen has made an outstanding contribution to east London healthcare,” Barts Trust chairman Ian Peters said. “She has put together the team that is stabilising our finances and shaping our future for our diverse communities. This has shone through most recently during the pandemic.”  

But the modest Alwen herself admits: “I could not have done anything without the commitment of everyone who kept faith with us on our journey of improvement.”

Alwen was awarded a CBE in 2009 as chief executive of Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust. She was soon in charge of the whole NHS across east London. 

Anne Claydon gets the British Empire Medal

Senior nurse Anne Claydon at Newham Hospital diabetic unit gets the British Empire Medal - Credit: Barts NHS

Senior nurse Anne Claydon (above) who was appointed by Barts trust to coordinate nursing at a new diabetic unit at Newham Hospital has been given the BEM in the New Year Honours. 
Anne, who worked at the former London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, moved to Newham in 1994 as a sister, then matron.
“I’d heard about Newham and knew I wanted to work there,” she recalls. “It was a diverse population and the hospital would be different. I loved it.” 
She has also worked in the Royal London, Mile End and St Bartholomew’s diabetes units.  

Also named in the New Years Honours is a former head teacher at the Royal London’s ‘alternative learning’ centre for children in hospital, along with his chief executive, as well as another Tower Hamlets head teacher, a school head of health and two founders of an east London health research charity. 

Couple who run London East Alternative giving excluded pupils schooling get OBEs

Couple who run 'London East Alternative' giving excluded pupils schooling are awarded OBEs - Credit: Google

John Bradshaw, former headteacher at London East Alternative Provision’s learning centre, is given an OBE for services to education. So is his executive principal, Emma Bradshaw. 

Their organisation also runs three more ‘alternative learning’ centres in Whitechapel,  Stepney and Bow to give secondary schooling to youngsters excluded from mainstream education because of ill-health, behaviour issues or other difficulties. London East sees its job as helping get them back on track, either by returning to regular schooling or completing Year 11.  

Two women who set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation in Shoreditch are also in the Honours List for OBEs, Nadim Ednan-Laperouse and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, both co-founders and trustees, “for services to people with allergies”. 

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