Services at risk of collapse

The situation with the waiting times at QEQM and the WHH Hospitals is both worrying and disturbing and reminiscent of the problems back in the early 2000s. We should not be again suffering from hospitals in east Kent unable to cope. 

I read with interest comments from EKHUFT that the closure of all acute services at the K&C and the transfer of patients to the William Harvey and QEQM has had no effect on the crisis in their A&Es.

I cannot believe that the trust thinks that we would in any way believe this outrageous propaganda. Even if the extra patients suffering acute stroke, cardiac, or repertory episodes amount to only thirty extra patients a day at the WHH or QEQM, because of the closure of K&C, how could you possibly say this has no effect on these hospitals?

CHEK has held three public meeting and the CCG various “listening” events and at all of them the issue of moving these services has been raised, primarily because of the added stress on patients and staff, but more importantly it was obvious to everyone except EKHUFT and the CCG that it would not work. These so-called 'temporary moves' were done without any consultation with the public which we believe is a legal requirement - something our barristers have now confirmed.

Our barristers have advised us that they believe we have a case for a judicial review. However, we have paused our legal pathway because we don’t at this time want to deflect the Trust or CCG’s concentration on patient care in the current situation.

We have been given information by various nurses and patients that would suggest that it is not only acute care that is suffering, but rather the whole of services provided by EKHUFT are in danger of collapse. The risks identified in the trust’s risk register (among in the board papers for the 11th of August) shows a very bleak picture, with most of the risks shown in red.

The board nevertheless congratulates itself on a 11% reduction in the poor performance of the A&Es  (although this was a report from June). However, no reference was made to the current position of having the worst waiting times in the country.

I am also more than a little confused as to why the Care Quality Commission hasn't commented on the trust being in such a poor position. They seem to accept the current poor performance of the trust. Is it possible that there is a conflict of interest as three board members are connected to the CQC, with Matthew Kershaw described as a 'special advisor' to the CQC in the register of interests? 

CHEK has given information to the KCC overview and security committee about the 'temporary' move of the acute services, and will do so again in September. We have also written to the minister of State for Health, and the CQC, and have continued to ask questions of the Clinical Commissioning Group but fear that unless things are taken control of by others then patients’ lives will be put more at risk. The trust has also identified the risk of these deaths in their corporate risk register.

The future has got to be that there is a major acute hospital in the center of east Kent, acting as the hub to the other two hospitals. But more urgent is the need to bring back the acute services that have been moved out temporarily. Bringing these services back will reduce the pressure on the WHH, and QEQM hospitals and hopefully ensure that we can approach the winter with some optimism that the acute services will not collapse

There is at least one offer of help from one developer to make a substantial contribution in building a new hospital in Canterbury. Such an offer should be considered seriously by the trust and department of health. It is probably the only way we can rescue our hospital services that have suffered from twenty years of mismanagement and strategy that has left us with this deteriorating care.

Let’s move forward as quickly as possible and announce the requirement of a new hospital in Canterbury as the way forward. We can then support the two universities in their bid to provide a medical school alongside. This also gives the opportunity to provide acute mental health beds treating these patients in the same way as other patients. There is also the possibility of providing some assisted living accommodation.

To do all this and rectify mistakes made in 2002 needs the will of those responsible, the trust, the CCG, NHS Improvements and other stakeholders. I hope that will is there. CHEK will continue to campaign for the realisation of our vision to provide a health care in East Kent that is exemplary.


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