Government sets out plans for improving standards at failing Bucks health trust

View - Main entrance sign to Stoke Mandeville Hospital
View - Main entrance sign to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Bosses at a high-performing hospital in Manchester have been tasked with improving standards at Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust, which was recently placed into special measures.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today set out his plans to drive up standards at 11 failing health trusts which includes Bucks identified in Sir Bruce Keogh’s review.

He said that each of the 11 trusts will be partnered with one of the best NHS Trusts in the country – with Bucks teamed up with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.

The high performing hospitals will be reimbursed for their time, and will have access to a special incentive fund, through which, where appropriate, they could be paid extra if their help produces real results.

He said the capability of leaders of all 11 trusts, which includes Bucks’ Anne Eden, is under ‘ongoing review’.

Changes to the management of failing trusts will be made if necessary ‘to ensure that the leadership is best placed to drive the required improvements to the quality of services throughout the special measures period and beyond. Improvements will not be held back by leaving weak leaderships in place’.

Each of the 11 Trusts will also have an ‘improvement director’, who will work with them and their high performing partners to monitor improvement against the trust’s action plan.

Mr Hunt said: “Turning special measures hospitals round is my top priority as health secretary.

“For too long, patients have had to put up with poor care because it was inconvenient to expose and tackle failure.

“So today I am committing to total transparency on progress in these hospitals, and to leave no stone unturned in our mission to turn them round.

“In place of the old approach of paying management consultants to analyse the problems, we are giving contracts to the best in the NHS to implement solutions they have tried and tested.

“With the help of inspiring NHS leaders and their teams from our leading hospitals, I am confident that we can get these hospitals out of special measures and on the road to recovery.”

Starting today, each of the 11 trusts will publish their improvement plans via NHS Choices, and will update them on a monthly basis so the public can see what progress is being made.

For example, Sir Bruce Keogh highlighted poor staffing levels in Bucks and the trust’s action plan is: “We will review the staffing levels and skill mix throughout the organisation (including senior support for Junior doctors), working towards high quality seven day cover arrangements for all services, to address concerns about weekend and out of hours care.

“This will include review of services in community hospitals in relation to their sustainability at the current level of use and include a review of capacity across acute and community teams to ascertain speciality requirements along the urgent care pathway.

“We will develop a recruitment and retention plan based on the staffing levels and skill mix review to address the difficulties in recruiting nursing staff and the significant variation in the make-up of staffing levels on individual wards between Trust staff and bank or agency staff.

“We will review our current training and development plan against a training needs analysis and implement changes e.g. Administering intravenous antibiotics or fluids.

“We will continue to carry out a variety of two-way communications in the organisation and these will be included in the safety culture review and development of quality and patient safety strategy.”

A separate Care Quality Commission report published earlier this month said improvements had been made to staffing at Stoke Mandeville Hospital but was still below national standards. It also warned over standards at Amersham Hospital.