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Hospital Trusts (Special Measures)

Volume 569: debated on Tuesday 22 October 2013

5. What recent progress he has made on improving the performance of hospital trusts placed in special measures. (900587)

8. What recent progress he has made on improving the performance of hospital trusts placed in special measures. (900590)

9. What recent progress he has made on improving the performance of hospital trusts placed in special measures. (900591)

Significant progress has been made at all 11 trusts placed in special measures in July, including changing the chair or chief executive officer and recruiting more nurses in every single one them and partnering each of them with a high-performing hospital so that they can make rapid progress in turning things around.

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. He will be aware of my constituents’ concerns about services at Diana, Princess of Wales hospital in Grimsby. There are doubts about the future of the stroke unit and high mortality rates, and there are also problems with the East Midlands ambulance service. Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that he is satisfied that progress is being made at the hospital?

I think good progress is being made and I commend my hon. Friend for his campaigning on the issue. The trust concerned has introduced better privacy for patients, hired 154 nurses since the Keogh report and introduced electronic vital signs reporting at the bedside—all because we are being transparent and open about problems in the NHS and not sweeping them under the carpet.

Burton hospital, which serves part of my constituency, was one of the 11 hospitals placed in special measures following the Keogh report. Will my right hon. Friend assure my constituents that the improvements needed in those hospitals will be carried out in a culture of openness and transparency rather than one of opaqueness and cover-up, which so unfortunately typified the way in which the previous Government ran the NHS?

I know that my hon. Friend takes a very close interest in what happens at his hospital and I think that progress is being made in turning it around. What will be of concern to my hon. Friend is that, as far back as 2005-6, Burton’s mortality rate was 30% higher than the national average—it was even higher than that at Mid Staffs—and yet the problem was not sorted out. We are sorting it out.

As the Secretary of State is aware, North Cumbria trust is in special measures. We have on our doorstep a potential solution to our problems, namely Northumbria trust. Will the Secretary of State give me an assurance that everything possible will be done to get North Cumbria out of special measures at the earliest opportunity and, much more importantly, that every support will be given to Northumbria in is acquisition of North Cumbria?

I can give my hon. Friend both assurances because Northumbria has been doing a huge amount to help North Cumbria turn itself around, including installing its patient experience systems to ensure that patients are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. The problems have been around since 2007 and he can tell his constituents that we are finally turning them around.

As my right hon. Friend will be aware, Basildon university hospital in my constituency is one of the 11 hospitals that were placed in special measures following the failure of the previous Government to act on the information that they had. Will he tell the House what support the new management team, in whom I have great confidence, are receiving and when my constituents can expect to see sustained, long-term improvements?

I reassure my hon. Friend that the trust has hired 257 more nurses since the problems emerged this year, has better A and E processes, and has been partnered with the Royal Free in London to help it make even more progress. He will be as shocked as I am that when the Care Quality Commission identified problems at that hospital the last Government sat on the report for six months. That cannot be acceptable.

How can NHS patients and staff have any confidence in decisions about their local services when they are taken by the Competition Commission on the overriding grounds of what is best for a competitive market and not what is best for patients? Will he learn from the failure of the merger between the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and take merger off the table as an option for Rotherham hospital?

May I reassure the right hon. Gentleman that the competition authorities make their decisions based on what is in the best interests of patients and do not hold competition as an overriding ideology? He is right that we need to work closely with those authorities to ensure that they have the expertise to take decisions in the right way and with trusts to ensure that they have the expertise to ensure that they do not stumble when they go through those processes.

How can the public have confidence in their health service when police officers are taking patients who are sick and injured to A and E because ambulances are backed up outside A and E and take longer than an hour to arrive?

I will tell the hon. Lady why the public can have confidence in their health service: compared with three years ago, on broadly the same budget, the NHS is doing 800,000 more operations year in, year out; MRSA rates have halved; and the number of people who wait for a year or longer for operations has gone down from 18,000 to fewer than 400.

Will the Secretary of State explain why we have had a summer crisis in A and E? We are all used to the emergency services being overwhelmed in winter. Given the crisis that we have had, what will he do to assist the NHS in averting a winter crisis this year, rather than just blaming everybody else?

The figures for September, the last month of the summer, were 95.8% in England and 90.6% in Wales. It was not coalition-controlled England that had a summer A and E crisis, but Labour-controlled Wales.

The Secretary of State for Health is clearly not adequately monitoring performance. If he was, he would be aware that serious problems remain across the accident and emergency departments of the trusts that were placed in special measures by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. On his watch, the A and E performance at eight of the 11 trusts has got worse since Keogh reported, including at my hospital in Tameside. The A and E performance has got substantially worse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, where the number of patients waiting for more than four hours has doubled since Keogh reported, and at Medway NHS Trust, where the figure has quadrupled. When will he stop all the grandstanding, cut the spin and get a grip on his A and E crisis?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased that something is happening under this Government that did not happen under the Labour Government: we are putting those hospitals into special measures and sorting out the problems, including the long-term problems with A and E such as the GP contract—a disaster that was imposed on this country by the Labour Government.