Open letter expressing concerns about Medway Hospital following Keogh Report

medway-maritime-hospitalThis is a copy of the open letter Mike Haywood has sent to the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group for Swale following the Keogh Report which was published last week:

Dr Fiona Armstrong
Chair, NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group
Bramblefield Clinic
Grovehurst Road
Kent ME10 2ST  
21 July 2013
By email
Dear Dr Armstrong,
The Keogh Report into Medway Maritime Hospital Foundation Trust
I am writing to you as Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors on Swale Borough Council. I feel it necessary to raise my concerns about what you are going to do next following the publication of the Keogh Report into Medway Maritime Hospital Foundation Trust.
As Chair of the Swale Clinical Commissioning Group, along with the Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, you commission services for the vast majority of patients that use Medway Maritime Hospital. I would therefore expect you to work closely with the Trust.
The Keogh Report identifies serious failings at Board level at the Trust – failings which are deeply worrying and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
I have four areas of concern which I would like to address with you.
1.      Breakdown of communication between staff and management about patient care
At the heart of the Board’s failings is a complete breakdown of communication between staff and management. The Rapid Responsive Review (RRR) Report for Medway Hospital which forms a key part of the Keogh Report says they heard from ‘concerned staff who frequently reported that they feel unable to raise patient safety concerns and when they do, little or no action is taken’.
According to the 2012 Staff Survey at the Hospital, 40% of staff reported having suffered work-related stress in the last 12 months, up from 32% in 2010. And, 78% are working extra hours, up from 70% in 2011.
Do you agree that the Trust Board needs to take urgent action to improve staff morale across the Hospital and that this is linked with improving patient care?
2.      Loss of focus on local health needs
The Keogh Report concludes that the Board has lost focus on the ‘day to day’ running of the Hospital because of constant changes (ie 6 new members since April 2012), and the possible merger with Darent Valley Hospital.
It is not acceptable that the healthcare of our area should play second fiddle to management restructuring exercises 30 miles away.
What steps do you propose to take in your dealings with the Hospital Trust to ensure that residents in Sittingbourne & Sheppey are given greater priority alongside patients from Medway?
3.      Failings in 4 hour A&E wait
Medway is the nearest accident and emergency service for people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey. To hear that patients are waiting longer than 4 hours is deeply worrying.
Do you acknowledge Medway Hospital’s failure to meet the 4 hour wait target for A&E is a cause for concern? What are you doing with the Trust to help it restores its past performance in meeting this target?
4.      Concerns about health services which have been cut being restored
The Keogh report states that: “To meet cost improvement programmes the Trust closed a number of wards over the last 3 years resulting in a loss of 60 beds. This has caused significant pressures on the emergency wards such as A&E, AMU and HDU which are frequently at capacity and are understaffed to potentially unsafe levels as observed by the Panel and reported by Junior Doctors and nurses.”
This is deeply worrying at a time of increased pressure on budgets within the NHS.
The Keogh Report says that reopening these wards will ease pressure on other wards some of which lack specialist cover ‘out of hours’ and at weekends, and where Junior Doctors are making clinical decisions above their level of competency.
Do you agree that the Hospital should reopen the wards it closed in the last three years? If so, what pressure will you be placing on the Trust to do so?
It is vital that residents in Sittingbourne and Sheppey feel assured that the care they receive is the best possible at Medway Hospital. The issues I am raising go to the heart of the Keogh Report. That is the reason why I am asking these questions.
I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely,
Cllr Mike Haywood
Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors
Swale Borough Council

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