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Failing Hospitals

Volume 584: debated on Tuesday 15 July 2014

The new special measures regime for failing hospitals is designed to introduce honesty and transparency for hospitals in difficulty. The new chief inspector of hospitals will report later this week on progress in the first year. I am sure that the whole House will welcome the fact that the new regime has made really encouraging progress.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust is not in my constituency, but is used by many of my constituents. It was announced last week that Medway is to remain in special measures because of the inadequacies of its A and E department. What steps can my right hon. Friend take to ensure that Medway receives the help needed to improve the service it provides to my constituents?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is right that the chief inspector raised concerns about some issues that persist at Medway. It is important to praise the staff for the progress that they have made in the past year. We have put in place 113 more nurses, the Bernard dementia unit, which has made some really good progress, and a twinning arrangement with University Hospitals Birmingham, which is one of the best in the country. There are some encouraging signs. I wish to reassure him and his constituents that we will stop at nothing to ensure that we turn that hospital around

The former chief executive of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Phil Morley, left his post suddenly just before the publication of a very poor Care Quality Commission report, leaving behind a culture of bullying in the trust. Is the Secretary of State as surprised as I am that he has now been appointed chief executive of a hospital in Essex?

I do not know the details of the individual case, and it would not be right for me to comment. However, what I will say is that we have changed the rules to prevent people who are responsible for poor care from popping up in another part of the system. From now on, when trusts appoint people to boards, they can check their prior records on a central database administered by the CQC. Let me tell the hon. Lady that we are absolutely determined to change the culture in the NHS so that we stamp out the bullying and intimidation that were such a factor for so many doctors and nurses for many years.

23. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating the management and staff of Basildon hospital who have worked hard to turn the hospital around so that it is now rated as good? Will he confirm that his Department will continue to support it so that the hospital can carry on making progress?


I am delighted with the progress that has been made under Clare Panniker’s leadership. The hospital now has 241 more nurses, and the first maternity unit in the country to be rated as outstanding. My hon. Friend will want to know why it is that when there was a CQC report under the previous Government, it was sat on for six months and nothing was done.

19. In 2005, Littlehampton’s community hospital was demolished to make way for a new community hospital. Weeks later, the plans were put on hold because community hospitals went out of vogue. Sussex Community NHS Trust now wants to increase the number of in-patient beds at community hospitals. Will the Secretary of State ensure that NHS Property Services rebuilds Littlehampton community hospital to deliver those beds where they are needed? (904867)

That is not actually a matter for NHS Property Services Ltd; it has to be locally driven. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right that we need to enhance community care services, whether in community hospitals or through services delivered at home. My hon. Friend has a high proportion of older people in his constituency and the transformation will be incredibly important for all his constituents.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s statement today on the establishment of safe staffing levels on hospital wards? He will be aware that I have been campaigning on the matter for many years. The 1:8 ratio is certainly not a target but a baseline against which safe staffing and patient care can now be measured.

I welcome what NICE has done today, because it is incredibly important that we end the scandal of short-staffed wards in our NHS, which was a feature for many years under Governments of both parties. The lesson of Mid Staffs is that the oldest and most vulnerable patients, such as people with dementia, can be forgotten when a hospital is under pressure, so NICE’s guidance will be welcomed and useful. It is important to say that it can save money, because nothing is more expensive than unsafe care.