Readers will be aware of the recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into services at Colchester General Hospital. The report of an inspection carried out in September 2015 made all too familiar reading. Concerns were raised about staffing levels, leadership, the quality of end of life support services, equipment and the quality of care provided and the Trust was given an overall rating of inadequate. Because the Trust has been in special measures for two years, we all would have expected more progress to have been made by now.
However, the vigorous inspection regime and support being made available to the Trust means that the systems in place to protect patients and to deal with problems as early as possible. For the most part, many thousands of patients use the Hospital every week and many find the service is excellent and receive a good quality of care. Permanent staff at the Hospital are also highly motivated and committed and doing what they can to raise standards.
Nevertheless, the Trust is not consistently performing and providing the high level of service which residents deserve and need. This is why it is right for the Trust to continue to remain in special measures.
Importantly, there is now new leadership in place, with the permanent Chief Executive, Frank Sims, taking over after the CQC inspection was carried out. The new leadership at the Trust must be given time to follow through on the new plans they have proposed and a chance to succeed in turning the hospital around.
Some of the key issues that will need to be addressed include reducing their dependency on temporary agency staff and increase the numbers of permanent staff. They also need to ensure that the transition from a patient staying at the Hospital once their treatment is complete and moving in to social care services through Essex County Council is smooth and timely.
As well as the Trust taking positive action to transform its services, it will need the cooperation, help and support of other agencies, including, the ambulance service, clinical commissioning group, and Essex County Council. The Government has already recognised the need for better and more effective joint working between adult social care services and NHS. It has established the Better Care Fund to support to delivery of more integrated services and this will mean that health trusts and councils will working more closely together.
The funding for the Better Care Fund and the record investment that is being put into the NHS is only possible because of the action that the Government has taken to control public expenditure, boost the economy and prioritise for spending on the NHS.
If any local residents or businesses need help or assistance from me, they are always welcome to get in touch by email to: WithamMP@parliament.uk by post to: Priti Patel MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or by telephone on: 020 7219 3528.
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham