Health chief promises bright future for Stoke Mandeville Hospital after shocking nine months

Inside Stoke Mandeville Hospital after fire
Inside Stoke Mandeville Hospital after fire
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Saturday’s fire which ripped through part of a ward and saw 53 patients evacuated was the latest in a series of damaging events.

Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive Anne Eden said: “Did we need it? Of course not.

“No-one wants something like this to happen.

“What it does go to demonstrate is the spirit of Stoke Mandeville in terms of how people bounce back. If there’s ever an opportunity to demonstrate the skill and professionalism of our staff this was it.

“It was like the Dunkirk spirit.”

After basking in the glory of the London Paralympic Games which put the spotlight on Sir Ludwig Guttmann’s legacy, there came the Jimmy Savile revelations, followed by the announcement this year that high death rates at the hospital trust are to be investigated.

The Care Quality Commission then issued a damning report into working conditions before Bupa dropped Stoke Mandeville from its approved list of hospitals for private patients.

Despite all of this, Ms Eden believes there is light at the end of the tunnel.

She expects Sir Bruce Keogh’s review into death rates to prove the trust’s figures are skewed because it is responsible for a hospice.

The chief says A&E is performing well after services were brought to Stoke Mandeville from Wycombe, although the trust has fallen below a waiting times target.

Work on a new multi-storey car park, which residents and staff have long called for, is also due to begin within two months and should be complete by the end of the year.

Sir Bruce’s review team visit next week but Ms Eden says the fire will not have any impact.

She said: “We want to put this review to bed and demonstrate to the community that they should have every confidence in us.

“There may be things that are not quite where we want them to be and we will work on putting them right.”

On A&E, she said bringing staff together had made a positive difference.

Ms Eden said: “Over the last few weeks we have been meeting the standards that have been set.

“We have demonstrated that this consolidation has made a difference.

“The quality of the environment is first class.”

Latest figures from the King’s Fund show 90.5% of A&E patients across the trust were seen in four hours or less, compared to a target of 95%.

Saturday’s fire began in ward four at around 4.20am.

Patients from wards four, five and seven were evacuated and 40 firefighters rushed to tackle the blaze.

One patient, who asked to remain anonymous, said they were taken to the ground floor restaurant and then the outpatients seating area.

He said: “Here we were treated impeccably by the nursing staff who soldiered on in such a crowded and inappropriate location.”

Ward four suffered massive smoke damage and will be shut for weeks. Ward five has reopened and specialists are trying to salvage what they can in ward seven. The total cost of the damage is not yet known.

Three patients were treated for smoke inhalation, one of whom suffered burns.

Ms Eden said it would have been much worse if it were not for quick thinking staff.

An initial report into the fire has been made, but the hospital would not reveal its contents.

Nineteen beds are out of action and the hospital has asked people to consider alternative ways of getting help.