East Kent hospitals under threat

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EAST Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust serving a population of more than 750,000 people across five different hospitals has been placed under special measures.

‘This is the second trust in Kent to be placed in special measures because of cuts in finances to the NHS,’ Unison regional organiser Simon Bolton told News Line yesterday.

The East Kent trust runs the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford; the Kent and Canterbury in Canterbury; the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) in Margate; the Buckland in Dover; and the Royal Victoria in Folkestone.

A recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission expressed ‘concerns about staffing levels in a number of areas, especially in A&E, in children’s care, and at night’ and rated the trust ‘inadequate’.

The CQC said that patient safety was affected by low staffing levels and cultural issues, while staff surveys cited cases of bullying.

Unison’s Bolton warned: ‘No management team will be able to put things right until there is additional finance and capital expenditure in the NHS.

‘Monitor also put Medway trust in special measures. They required the trust to replace the chief executive and chair.

‘Since then the leadership has got worse in our view. An interim chief executive came in in February and left in July. The chair of the trust, who is on £200,000 – four times the usual salary – can claim £17,000 a year without receipts.

‘Monitor has to consider whether such managment changes is going to do the trust a lot good. In our view it destablises managment.

‘The NHS is being strangled and privatised with the private sector cherry picking the bits they want. The private sector is reporting a big increase in revenue. But that’s this government’s policy. We are balloting our members over pay.’

East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive, Stuart Bain, said it has put aside £2.9m to recruit 69 nurses, four more general surgeons had also been recently appointed and a further three would be recruited shortly.