Could the scandal of Stafford Hospital happen here?

We have learned today how managers at Stafford Hospital lost sight of the real purpose of a hospital, which is patient care. Management concentrated on the finance of the hospital instead of clinical care. There are lessons for the whole NHS here, and also lessons for us locally as the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust is also aiming to become a Foundation Trust. In Stafford, anxious to meet financial targets so that the hospital could become a Foundation Trust they reduced staffing levels while death rates soared. Today’s report also highlights poor communication between management and clinicians, and the PCT was criticised for lack of clinical leadership.

In period marked by constant NHS re-organisation there was a “loss of corporate memory” and new managers failed to learn from their predecessors. And finally patients’ complaints were not taken seriously enough.

Like those in Stafford our local managers will be under pressure to meet financial targets. Our hospitals, like Stafford have been criticised in recent years. Our staff too are under pressure. There are also concerns that our PCT has also reduced the level of clinical advice it receives. But there are differences too. Our biggest problem is probably not shortage of staff but shortage of beds. Ambulances queue to get patients into the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. GPs are exhorted not to admit patients, or to keep them at home for a few more hours so that a bed may be found. In order to make the most use of the beds that we have patient turnover is unreasonably high and occupancy levels are much higher than is recommended for best practice. This puts additional stress on the staff and patients alike.

I have an appointment with the Chief Executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust in the near future, and I shall be raising these and other issues with him.

There is much about our NHS that can and should celebrate, but we must not allow the pursuit of managerial or financial objectives to deflect us from the crucial subject of clinical outcomes. People who have concerns may contact me on 07775 800744”.

Background:
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust:   A review of lessons learnt for commissioners and performance managers following the Healthcare Commission investigation.    Dr David Colin Thomé 29 April 09 is at:
http://www.midstaffs.nhs.uk/aboutUs/corporate/publications/ColinThomeReport.pdf

Healthcare commission (March 09) report is at:
http://www.midstaffs.nhs.uk/aboutUs/corporate/publications/Investigation_into_Mid_Staffordshire_NHS_Foundation_Trust.pdf

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