A disability charity chairman has claimed the wrong people are in charge at Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust following a damning report which placed it in special measures.
Sir Bruce Keogh’s report into higher than average death rates 14 health trusts listed a catalogue of concerns at Bucks, which runs Stoke Mandeville Hospital. These included doubts over the trust’s managers, low staffing levels, poor morale, a ‘blame culture’ and a lack of empathy over patient complaints.
Chief executive Anne Eden, who has been in charge since 2006, said she will not stand aside and that she was happy there were ‘no significant issues with the safety or quality of care provided at our hospitals’.
But Andrew Clark, chairman of Bucks Disability Service, which has launched its own investigation into failings at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, said it is time for change.
He said: “The right people are not running it at the moment.
“There’s been a widespread failing at the trust. The hospital is in special measures so we do need to see some sense the trust are taking this seriously and are putting people in place who can do the job and restore the public confidence.
“We have evidence the senior management is inadequate. There needs to be changes at senior management because you can’t have inadequate management at a hospital trust.”
Mr Clark added he was stunned by Ms Eden and the trust’s responsse.
“I think it’s very hard reading for the senior management and the board at the hospital trust that have been comprehensively criticised for not having the right systems to run the place,” he added.
“I was flabbergasted with the response from the trust which said it’s encouraged to see no serious concerns were noted about the hospital.
“I thought ‘you have been completely condemned in the report’ and to come out and say you are encouraged is quite incredible.
“The outcome of all these bad experiences is that a lot of people are dying in Bucks hospitals when they shouldn’t be.
“The fact is people are going into these hospitals and are not coming out again.”
Mr Clark said the charity was in contact with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Sir Bruce Keogh regarding its own investigation into patient safety particularly after the trust branded such a report ‘irresponsible’.
He added: “We are certainly not giving up on that. It’s unacceptable when an institution gets itself into trouble to then shoot the messenger.”
County councillor Julia Wassell sympathised with Anne Eden’s position and hopes she remains in charge.
She said: “The agenda she’s been given has been too enormous.
“I’m glad she’s not been replaced by a man in a suit. She needs more help.
“She’s had to manage estates, manage personnel, manage patient care and manage finances. She needs to be freed up to focus on walking round talking to patients and others.”
Ms Wassell disagreed with Mr Clarke and said the trust needs to focus on introducing more ‘hard hitting’ people in non-executive roles who have a knowledge of the NHS.
Meanwhile, in a statement Aylesbury MP David Lidington said: “My constituents will expect urgent and determined action to put right the serious problems identified in the report. I fully share that view, not just as the local MP but also as someone whose family has been using local hospitals for more than 20 years,
“Sir Bruce Keogh’s report is balanced. It identifies examples of good practice in Buckinghamshire hospitals. But it also has trenchant criticisms.
“I welcome the fact that the trust leadership has responded positively to the report and has put in place an action plan to respond to the shortcomings which Sir Bruce has identified.
“It is in all our interests to see Stoke Mandeville, Wycombe, and Amersham hospitals rebuild a reputation for the best possible care of patients.
“I look to the trust’s leadership to see this report as an opportunity to raise their ambitions for what can be achieved and to take immediate and determined action to drive up standards of care.”
He later told the Bucks Herald he would leave the question of Ms Eden’s future down to the special measures team coming into the hospital: “I think this key judgement is for the specialist assessors who are part of the special measures process.
“Each of the 14 trusts are going to have people go in and look at the top management and make a judgement on whether they can turn around performance of the trust or whether they need to be replaced.
“That has to be something which is done by people who know about managing a successful NHS trust. There can be advantages in removing people and bringing in someone better but on the other hand that change can in itself introduce delay and dislocation. The priority is the trust puts right the things identified and does so speedily.”
He said that following his ‘rapid reading’ of the report it seemed to him that one of the major faults of the trust was its failure to disseminate best practice throughout the trust.
He added: “That is partly about how they organise management and communication systems internally. The review team would identify good practice in many departments but it was not consistent throughout the trust.”
Healthwatch Bucks, an independent organisation set up earlier this year, said it welcomes the action plan set out by Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust to tackle the problems.
Jenny Baker OBE, the Chair of Healthwatch Bucks, said: “Although it’s disappointing that our local health and social care trust has had to be put in special measures, the report is helpful in understanding some of the main areas of improvement and we are glad to see that a specific action plan has been agreed with a firm timetable to get the work done.”
She added that the Healthwatch Panel of expert volunteers will help to ensure that the experiences and opinions of patients and their families and carers are taken fully into account as the trust addresses the shortcomings identified by the Keogh Review.
The Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group and Aylesbury Vale Clinical Commissioning Group gave its response in a statement.
It said: “The Keogh Review has been a helpful and thorough investigation into the quality of care and treatment being provided by our main secondary health care provider Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.
“As newly established Clinical Commissioning Groups we take seriously our role in assessing and monitoring the safety and standards of the clinical care that we purchase for our patients.
“As clinically-led organisations we are committed to supporting Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust take necessary action to continue to improve services for our local people.
“We will work with the Trust Development Agency to set an assurance framework that will set out times and targets to ensure improvements in care are delivered and that strong governance is in place.
“This framework will build upon the CCGs’ recent meetings with Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust to discuss quality, through which a number of issues were raised and which have already led to swift action being taken. We have already seen a rapid improvement with the Trust meeting its four hour wait targets and achieving the national quality standards for A&E.”