THE prestigious and world famous NHS Addenbrooke’s Hospital has been placed into special measures.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis commented yesterday: ‘This is a shocking indictment of the government’s cavalier attitude towards the NHS, that a hospital like Addenbrooke’s – with its world class reputation – should find itself in special measures.
‘A persistent underfunding of the NHS is to blame. It’s a crisis entirely of the government’s making. Cambridge University Hospitals Trust is the 15th NHS trust to be put into special measures, but through no fault of the staff. They are running themselves into the ground, yet still striving to provide good quality care, against all the odds. Our NHS can’t survive much more papering over the cracks like this. The government needs to get a grip and resource the NHS properly in the face of ever growing demands upon its services.’
Addenbrooke’s is the 26th NHS trust in England to be placed into the NHS’s improvement regime.
The CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspectors demanded improvements after highlighting a series of serious concerns at the 1,000-bed hospital. They included:
• A significant shortage of staff in a number of key areas, including critical care.
• Staff being moved from ward to ward to cover gaps in rotas, even though some lacked the necessary training to do so.
• Too few midwives to cover the number of births in the Rosie Birth Centre adjoining Addenbrooke’s.
• High use of agency and bank staff to try to maintain adequate staffing.
It found that, in addition, patients were waiting longer than the maximum 18 weeks for elective care and up to 51 weeks for an outpatient appointment for eye care. All these problems are being caused by the government’s £20bn of NHS cuts. Now there are a further £22bn of NHS cuts in the pipeline!
The CQC praised Addenbrooke’s staff as hard-working, passionate and caring, but rated the overall services it provides as inadequate, and recommended it enter the special measures process, with no mention of the government’s savage cuts. The trust is, in fact, losing £1.2m a week.
Last winter, Addenbrooke’s incurred some of the worst breaches of the four-hour target for treating A&E patients and was one of almost 20 hospitals to declare a major incident in January when it struggled to cope with the weight of demand.
Dr Keith McNeil, its chief executive at the time, pointed out that this was due to 200 of its beds being taken up with patients who could not leave because social care was not in place to support them! Dr McNeil announced last week that he was leaving the trust. He is criticising the CQC’s negative appraisal of the trust, branding it wrong. Addenbrooke’s was phenomenal, he told the BBC. ‘People’s lives are saved every day by that hospital’ he said. ‘I cannot see why anybody would want to describe it as inadequate.’
He added that there was not ‘any sane or rational interpretation of the word “inadequate” that would describe any aspect of the operations at Addenbrooke’s.’ UNISON leader Prentis has condemned the attack on Addenbrooke’s adding: ‘Our NHS can’t survive much more papering over the cracks like this . . . The government needs to get a grip and resource the NHS properly in the face of ever growing demands upon its services.’
He knows that appeals to the Tories are useless yet he carries on making these same appeals, and is even marching to the Tory Party conference to appeal to them there. Only a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism can save the NHS.
TUC leaders who, like Prentis, refuse to call a general strike and instead appeal to the Tories must be sacked and replaced by leaders who are willing to defend the NHS by taking action to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government.
These are the issues that will be discussed at the ATUA-West London Council of Action Conference on Sunday September 27th. Make sure that you are there !