Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Interview

Melvin Samsom: Rebuilding hospitals for patients

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 02 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2088
  1. Jacqui Wise, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. jacquiyoung1{at}

The visionary Karolinska chief executive, Melvin Samsom, is transforming patients’ experience by restructuring and rebuilding hospitals—despite staff resistance. Jacqui Wise interviews him

Melvin Samsom arrived at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm in 2014, fresh from transforming the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Radboud had hit the headlines in 2006 because death rates in its cardiothoracic centre were three times the national average.1 Samsom, a professor of gastroenterology, was brought in to drive quality improvement, and under his leadership Radboud became lauded as a model for patient participation.

“What I am most proud of achieving at Radboud was we really saw a significant increase in quality of care, not just in our heart patients but also in general,” Samsom says. “We also involved patients a lot and learnt a lot from our patients.”

After Samsom’s reforms, Radboud became ranked highly in national comparisons of care quality and outcomes, with cardiothoracic surgery results among the best in Europe.1

Samsom recalls his first impression when he arrived at the Karolinska. “At leadership level we did not talk about the core of what makes a university hospital, which is quality of care, the highly specialised care, whether patients were satisfied, and the connection with research and education.”

Putting patients first

Samsom said that putting patients first had been the …

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