Julia Bridgewater, Group Chief Operating Officer at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The Honour recognises Julia’s leadership to MFT’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as her major contribution to the regional and national pandemic management strategy.
Julia is responsible for the day to day operation of the £2.3bn turnover Trust which employs around 28,000 staff across 10 hospitals and community services.
Sir Michael Deegan, Group Chief Executive at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “I am delighted that Julia’s outstanding work has been recognised through this Honour. Her contribution to the planning and oversight of MFT’s Covid-19 pandemic response was fundamental to ensuring hospital and community services across Manchester and Trafford delivered exceptional and safe care in an unprecedented situation.
“Her experience and foresight influenced the MFT Board to start transforming services two weeks before the increase in demand predicted by the scientific data.”
This foresight enabled MFT to rapidly re-skill staff for safe re-deployment to critical care units, train back office staff for front line roles and transfer other colleagues to key support functions ranging from family liaison roles to PPE distribution and staff wellbeing.
A highly-respected NHS leader, Julia also played a major role in the rapid commissioning of the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West, ensuring patients from across the region quickly benefited from its substantial resources and expertise.
Sir Mike added; “Two key experiences in 2017 undoubtedly shaped Julia’s outstanding leadership during the pandemic: managing the Trust response to the Manchester Arena Attack and delivering the largest ever NHS Trust merger that created MFT and a new era of health care for the people of Manchester and Trafford. In each case, her meticulous planning, collaborative approach and personal commitment over many weeks and months guaranteed success.
“Julia is admired by everyone who works with her as an outstanding colleague, leader, mentor and champion of quality patient care.”
Julia, who is from Staffordshire, said: “I am privileged to have worked in the NHS for more than 36 years and very proud to receive this honour. The way in which everyone across MFT and the wider NHS has risen to the challenge of responding to the pandemic has been incredible and is testament to the commitment and dedication of all of our staff in delivering high standards of patient care every day.”
Throughout the pandemic, Julia’s immense insight and tactical approach ensured the planning process and subsequent patient care activity involved all MFT’s ten hospitals and community services, maximising critical care staff and resources while maintaining emergency and other essential treatment. As evidence emerged that Covid-19 affects BAME people disproportionately, Julia also focused particularly on supporting and protecting BAME colleagues at MFT.
Her current challenge is to lead MFT’s Covid-19 recovery programme, restoring planned care but also encouraging teams to adopt and adapt the new ways of working learned during the pandemic to provide even better care for patients. MFT delivers secondary and tertiary care across Manchester, Trafford and the wider North West region, serving a core population of 2.8 million.
Julia joined the NHS Graduate Training Scheme in 1984 after completing a degree in Theology at The University of Manchester. She spent the majority of her career in the acute sector in the West Midlands, in various roles including managing Surgery, Orthopaedics, Business Planning and Service Development.
Julia was appointed Chief Executive at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust (UHNS) in 2007 where she guided the hospital through a period of Turnaround. UHNS was successful in having approved a £400 million PFI Scheme in May 2007 and services were transferred to the single site development in 2012.
Julia moved to lead Shropshire Community Trust for a period of six months before joining Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, MFT’s predecessor organisation, in September 2013 as Chief Operating Officer.