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Hunt announces 11 hospital trusts in special measures

Failing senior managers will be removed and barred from NHS posts

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Health regulator Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority have placed 11 hospital trusts in England into ‘special measures’ in a bid to improve patient care, following the publication yesterday of The Keogh Mortality Review. Three further trusts escaped special measures following the NHS Medical Director’s investigation – although he said that none of the 14* provided consistently good care. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised that the quality of leadership at the trusts will be assessed, and any failing senior managers removed.

The Prime Minister asked Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to lead the review process, in which the 14 hospitals faced unannounced and out-of-hours as well as planned visits, because of their unexpectedly high mortality rates.

Sir Bruce reported some examples of good care, but said he found patterns that were often repeated across the 14 trusts, including professional and geographic isolation; failure to act on data that gave cause for concern; the absence of a culture of openness; a lack of willingness to learn from mistakes; and ineffectual governance and assurance processes. He found trust boards were sometimes unaware of problems that his review teams discovered.

He said: “Not one of these trusts has been given a clean bill of health … Mediocrity is simply not good enough and, based on the findings from this review I have set out an achievable ambition which will help these hospitals improve dramatically over the next two years.”

Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said that the 11 trusts placed into “special measures” will be required to implement the review’s recommendations, under the guidance of external teams and in partnership with high-performing NHS organisations; their progress will be tracked and made public.

He added that any senior managers unable to lead the improvements required would be removed, and that the Government will be bringing in legislation so that failed managers are unable to move elsewhere in the NHS for a job. Meanwhile outstanding leaders will be identified and supported.

Mr Hunt said: “Under the new rigorous inspection regime led by the chief inspector of hospitals, if a hospital is not performing as it should, the public will be told. If a hospital is failing, it will be put into special measures with a limited time period to sort out its problems.”

Chair of the BMA Consultants Committee Dr Paul Flynn said: “Sir Bruce Keogh’s report reflects an emerging and building picture of the issues that urgently need to be tackled.”

But he went on: “Although we need to find urgent solutions to these problems, knee-jerk reactions are not going to be helpful. Short-term political gain only ignores the wider long-term challenges facing the NHS, and further risks patient safety.

“Unless the Government is prepared to invest more into the NHS then there has to be a more honest debate about where and how finite resources are spent.”

* The 14 hospitals are: Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

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