Five minutes with Kate Farrow, Director of Operations at King Edward VII’s Hospital

Each month, we spend five minutes with one of the impressive professionals that call Harley Street home. This month, it's over to the King Edward VII’s Hospital to meet Director of Operations Kate Farrow

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at:

 I have been with King Edward VII’s Hospital for three years now and it is a great place to work. We are an independent charitable hospital in the heart of Marylebone that has provided personalised specialist care for over 120 years.  Whilst we are steeped in history and have a heritage we are proud of, we also have a passion for driving innovation and change which has been hugely rewarding for me in my career development.

Describe your average day.

My days can vary significantly and that is the life of an Operations Director. I think one of the key components to my success has been my agile approach and the ability to think flexibly and proactively in anticipation of problems or work through them at short notice. We tend to run toward a potential issue and plan resolutions rather than waiting for it to hit us.  I have a great team and I see my role as providing that steady leadership and experience to help and guide them in their own decision making process so they can develop themselves and grow professionally.

In my role as an Op’s director I also work with the Executive Team to solve wider organisational challenges as well as providing strategic direction. As you can imagine, the last couple of years has required a major focus on the operational delivery of healthcare in a Covid environment whilst also continuing with our major development projects. Identifying new areas of improvement, opportunity and growth and putting those opportunities into practice is what I find the most rewarding aspects of my career.  A huge achievement this year was the hospital winning the Laing Buisson Management Excellence award.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started my career in healthcare administration in theatres at the Toronto General Hospital. I was 23 and absolutely loved the buzz, variety and team working atmosphere that a career in healthcare can provide. I considered going to medical school to specialise in emergency medicine but made the decision to focus my efforts and energy on a career in healthcare management. I believe passionately about patient care and driving excellence in healthcare and this has allowed me to work incredibly well with my clinical colleagues. I have been in healthcare management here in the UK since 2006!

How has Covid-19 impacted your organisation? Like my colleagues in neighbouring hospitals, the impact was huge for us. We stepped up to help the NHS and mobilised our theatres and wards to take NHS work within 48 hours of the first lock down in March 2020. But through adversity we grew as a team and also the relationships with other organisations strengthened. The Harley Street Medical Area pulled together with equipment, PPE and patient pathways and I am so proud we played a role in supporting our community, neighbouring NHS Trusts and London in pandemic.

What do you like most about being based on Harley Street? Marylebone and the Harley Street area is a fantastic pocket of London to work in. You are surrounded by expertise and likeminded industry colleagues, close to multiple transport links and spoilt for choice with restaurants, shops and fitness facilities. It would be a hard area leave!

How does the Harley Street Medical Area Partnership support your business? It is a great forum for businesses and healthcare organisations to come together and support one another. We rely on each other to continue the legacy and heritage this area is renowned for and having that commonality only strengthens us all.

How could a visitor to the area spend their time here? A visitor, like us, would be spoilt for choice! There is something for everyone! Shops, Restaurants, Spa’s, Gyms, Parks, Markets, Healthcare facilities.  I would encourage anyone coming for a medical appointment in the Harley Street Area to at least keep and hour or so free to have a stroll and take in all we have to offer! 

Any particular recommendations or hidden gems?
I have three! The lunch offer at the Ginger Pig for a quick delicious lunch is a great option. The farmers market on a Sunday afternoon behind Waitrose has an amazing selection of veg, cheese, and meat. A well and truly hidden gem is the French wine bar on Moxon street, but I will keep the name a secret as it really is a special little gem worth searching out for!