East Sussex Healthcare Trust told to make ‘drastic changes’

LEWES. County Hall SUS-150522-151022001
LEWES. County Hall SUS-150522-151022001

THE chairman of a health watchdog has welcomed a report into the management of East Sussex’s two hospitals – but warned there is still a ‘long way to go’.

Councillor Michael Ensor, chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said he requires ‘dramatic changes’ at East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust (ESHT), which was put into special measures following a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The trust runs Conquest Hospital in Hastings and Eastbourne DGH.

“Being put in special measures is not the solution, but the start of a process in which the trust will have to make improvements,” said Cllr Ensor.

“This is the end of one chapter, but there is a long way to go.

“HOSC will be scrutinising every aspect that came out of the report and requires dramatic changes over the coming months.”

In May this year the scrutiny committee passed a vote of no confidence in the chair and chief executive of the trust and called on ESHT to implement an improvement plan as a matter of urgency.

A motion which was unanimously agreed by members of HOSC, said, “Whilst recognising the caring qualities of staff, that East Sussex HOSC expresses great concern at the findings of the CQC inspection, has no confidence in the chairman or the chief executive of the trust, calls on ESHT to implement the improvement plan with a matter of urgency, and expects ESHT to give regular updates to ensure HOSC members are fully informed of the progress of that improvement plan.”

However speaking at the time, former chief executive of the trust Darren Grayson, who resigned in July, said,“We are absolutely clear that we are on a journey of improvement here.”

Stuart Welling, who is still working at the trust, said they would not be resigning.

He told the committee, “We always took the view that the leadership of the organisation has a job to do and it is a difficult job.”

Mr Grayson said, “We are absolutely clear that we are on a journey of improvement here.”

The CQC’s report, published on Tuesday following an unannounced visit, highlights 12 areas where improvements are needed, including the relationships between staff and management and patient confidentiality.

The report found that patient experience was good, which corresponds with HOSC’s view that nursing staff and medical staff are doing a ‘good job in spite of issues with the management structure’.

Cllr Ensor said: “We now have a clear point at which improvements will start with the involvement of the Trust Development Authority (TDA), which will oversee the special measures procedures.”

“The CQC will return in a year and will require major improvements. HOSC will want to see improvements being made immediately, and have already set up a review board and sub committees to scrutinise the trust’s performance.”

HOSC’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, October 1, at County Hall in Lewes. The meeting is open to the public.

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