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Special measures nothing to fear, says Shropshire hospitals chief

By Mark Andrews | Telford | Health | Published:

The head of troubled Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals trust said he would welcome any extra support which came as a result of the body being put into special measures.

Simon Wright, chief executive of Shrewsbury & Telford Hospitals NHS Trust

Simon Wright said such action was nothing to be afraid of as he took Ludlow MP Philip Dunne on a tour of the Princess Royal Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Mr Wright said he was not aware of the hospital having been placed into any such measures during the visit, although he said the trust had been in regular communication with NHS Improvement,

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"I would welcome more support," he said. "We had already strengthened our trust board before Care Quality Commission visited.

"We see it as an opportunity that could see us being able to attract additional funding and expertise, it will help us tackle the problems that have been there for a number of years, and help us build confidence back up.

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne with ward manager Lisa Gliks at the Princess Royal Hospital

"In terms of language it might not look positive to people outside the trust, but it's about what we can do to improve the services, not what the label is."

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Mr Dunne was visiting the hospital to see how it was responding after being served with an enforcement notice by the watchdog body the Care Quality Commission.

He said, as the former health minister responsible overseeing special measures, that it was nothing to be feared and should be seen as an opportunity to improve services.

"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Mr Dunne.

"It is to address the issues and give them the support from NHS Improvement, and across the NHS to turn things round as quickly as possible."

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He said whether it would affect confidence in the hospital, particularly with regard to recruitment, would depend on how the news was portrayed.

"It should be regarded as support for the trust and the staff who are working tirelessly to provide the best care for all the people of Shropshire.

Convinced

"People need to see what is happening here, rather than just believe everything that is being said by campaigners who might have an agenda."

Mr Dunne was taken on a tour of the A&E, maternity and paediatric care units. He said while there were still some issues surrounding A&E, he was impressed by the changes that had taken place since the CQC report and was convinced that the hospital was now on the right track.

"I have been impressed by the way the hospital has started to address the concerns raised by the CQC, and I will be encouraging them to reinspect the hospital as soon as possible so they can remove the Section 31 notice that requires it to report weekly.

"I'm confident the trust is addressing its issues," he said.

Mr Dunne and Lisa Gliks

Mr Dunne said he had been impressed by improvements at the maternity unit, which is the subject of a review examining more than 100 deaths and injuries to babies.

"The trust is taking many measures which gives me confidence this is the place for mums to have babies," he said. Mr Dunne met children's ward manager Lisa Gilkes who showed him the new specialist resus unit.

She said it was important that specialist children's services were kept in the county, otherwise many of its patients would be forced to travel to other parts of the country.

Special measures: How we got here

August: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carries out inspections at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) and raises concerns over patient safety.

August 29: Simon Wright, chief executive of SaTH, says some concerns have been raised by the CQC around the accident and emergency departments.

September 4: It is claimed that staff told health inspectors that patients were being treated like ‘animals and cattle’ in ‘unsafe, demeaning, undignified, and disgusting’ conditions.

September 6: The CQC takes enforcement action in two areas. It imposes conditions on SaTH in terms of the systems it has in place around patients who may present with sepsis or other deteriorating medical conditions in the emergency departments.

September 8: SaTH chief executive Simon Wright says the Future Fit plans would address many of the problems raised by the CQC.

September 19: It is understood that the independent review into mother and baby deaths and injuries at hospitals in Shropshire is examining more than 100 cases.

September 21: CQC takes further action against the maternity department. Deirdre Fowler, director of nursing, midwifery and quality at SaTH, says the trust remains committed to providing the best care in its maternity services.

September 26: Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies says MPs must demand a Government-backed rescue plan to avoid the overnight closure of Telford’s A&E.

September 27: SaTH’s board votes unanimously in favour of the night-time closure of A&E at Telford due to staffing shortages. Telford MP Lucy Allan says she is asking for SaTH to be placed in special measures.

September 28: Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard holds an emergency meeting with SaTH’s chief executive Simon Wright to discuss the decision. Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies also holds a crisis meeting.

October 1: Telford MP Lucy Allan meets with Health Secretary Matt Hancock. She asks him to put SaTH into special measures.

October 3: Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard says he has written to the CQC asking for SaTH to be placed into special measures. SaTH says it could keep both A&E services open in the short-term if it had a minimum of seven additional level middle grade doctors. The hospitals would also need a minimum of 15 more registered A&E nurses.

October 4: Telford MP Lucy Allan holds a ‘summit’ to discuss the planned A&E closure. Shaun Davies launches a petition calling for a Government-backed rescue plan.

October 12: Shaun Davies calls on businesses to help with a DIY SOS style plan to fix three buildings at PRH so they can offer free accommodation to junior and middle grade doctors.

October 23: The CQC says it remains very concerned about the emergency department and maternity services at SaTH. The trust must make weekly reports to the watchdog.

October 24: It emerges the planned overnight A&E closure at PRH could run each night from 10pm to 8am, instead of 8pm to 8am. Health bosses are looking to bring this into force on December 5.

October 25: MP Mark Pritchard, Telford & Wrekin councillors meet with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to discuss SaTH.

November 4: Around 3,000 people take part in a march in Wellington, Telford, calling for Telford’s A&E to remain fully open.

November 6: It emerges SaTH has received a third warning from the CQC over the safety of its services.

November 7: Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, visits PRH.

November 8: NHS Improvement confirms SaTH has been placed in special measures.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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