East Lancs hospital boss: I won't quit
5:00pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
HOSPITAL boss Mark Brearley said he has no intention of quitting - despite a second major report making damning criticisms of his organisation.
Former Burnley MP Peter Pike has now urged Mr Brearley to resign as chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust [ELHT], following yesterday’s call from patient representative Russ McLean for the whole board to stand down.
But when asked whether he or any board members would consider resigning, Mr Brearley said: “I’ve still got a job to do to make sure the improvements are carried through. And the board’s view would be that we carry on.”
Mr Brearley has apologised for the trust’s shortcomings, but said good progress is being made to turn things around and the board is ‘committed to getting it right’.
The resignation calls were prompted by a Care Quality Commission [CQC] report into failings in emergency care at Royal Blackburn Hospital, which raised serious concerns about three out of four basic standards.
The watchdog’s three-day inspection in late July came just eight days after ELHT was placed in special measures, following Sir Bruce Keogh’s report into failing hospitals.
The trust has since been following a detailed improvement plan, but the report raises several new concerns, which suggests the problems were more serious than Sir Bruce, the medical director of NHS England, had realised.
The CQC inspection followed an approach from a ‘whistleblower’ who used to work at the trust, and the regulator said about five whistleblowers are currently coming forward each week in East Lancashire.
Many of the CQC’s concerns centred on the trust’s ‘escalation policy’, when extra beds are opened during surges in patients.
Staff told the inpsectors that patients allocated to these beds were sometimes ‘forgotten’, while others classed as ‘additional patients’ were regularly left on chairs or trolleys, due to a lack of beds.
The CQC said the trust had been ‘well aware’ of the problems, but when asked why they had not been dealt with earlier, Mr Brearley said: “We weren’t necessarily aware of some of the scale of the issues before. As a board we got some reassurance about the patient experience and it wasn’t as robust as it could have been.”
Asked who was responsible for this, he said: “It’s our responsibility as a board and we have learned from that.”
Mr Pike, former Labour MP for Burnley, said he met with Mr Brearley and former chair Hazel Harding a year ago to press for better use of beds at Burnley General Hospital, to ease pressure on Blackburn. This issue was later raised in the Keogh report.
Mr Pike said the trust has lost the confidence of patients and the public, adding: “I had hoped that Mark Brearley would accept responsiblity and resign. It is my view that he should do so now or regrettably be sacked.”
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