Special measures for Brighton hospital comes as no surprise, says union

Posted On 17 Aug 2016 at 1:34 am

The GMB union said that it was “no surprise” that official inspectors had recommended placing Brighton and Hove’s main hospital trust into special measures.

The union said: “It comes as no surprise to the GMB and staff that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) finally placed Brighton’s failing NHS trust in special measures.

“GMB, the union for NHS workers, has called for proper funding and quality leadership as the only long-term treatment for the CQC ‘inadequate’ diagnosis.

“The news that Brighton and Sussex University NHS Trust has been placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) today will at first be seen as devastating by patients and staff alike at both the Royal Sussex County and Princess Royal Hospitals.

“But the GMB hopes that both the extra funding which might be made available and importantly the potential positive professional leadership which could be accessed by this decision could finally see the trust, which for so long has had to suffer one incompetent appointment after another, get the sort assistance and leadership both patients and staff deserve.

“Although locally blame is solely with the trust board, successive poor appointments at chief executive level have seen problems ignored and in fact exacerbated by the continuation of damaging government-initiated NHS funding reductions, recruitment problems and poor management who have often used bullying of staff as the optimal method of encouraging staff to accept extra shifts, stay late and to care for patients at times of staff shortages above and beyond what could be fairly expected and considered safe.

“Government underfunding is the purposeful promoter around seeing more and more NHS trusts around the country facing being placed in special measures despite claims that overall more money is being spent on the NHS budget.

“It’s clear that when that underfunding is mixed with poor management, the type of NHS we all talk about wanting and keeping cannot be delivered safely when the financial bottom line becomes organisationally the overriding priority.”

GMB organiser Gary Palmer said: “No blame for Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust being placed in special measures can be laid at the feet of the frontline staff at the trust.

“In fact their constant dedication and hard work in the face of poor leadership has enabled patients to get first-class quality treatment and care on a regular basis.

“The long-term damage had been done by unrealistic savings targets being set out by successive management teams unable to find innovative ideas around healthcare delivery or by failing to consult with the expertise that frontline healthcare professional could potentially deliver on savings and improvements if asked.

“We all know that the NHS has faced financial challenges for many years and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, like others, were told to find a series of efficiency savings.

“However, efficiency savings are not something which can be repeatedly rolled out on a year-on-year basis, especially if as the government has stated they wish to see high-quality and safe patient services for all.

“Many reports on inadequate services in the NHS, including those from the Care Quality Commission, will rightly focus on a lack of leadership from the constantly turning NHS merry-go-round of poor executives and board members simply moving from trust to trust as being the major problem and skip over the obvious overriding issues created in the first place from the lack of funding as the root cause of the problems encountered.

“But it is clear at BSUH that successive management appointments, including the chief execs who have steadfastly and simply followed government policy, infamously instigated by previous chief exec axeman Matthew Kershaw’s approach of cuts, cuts, cuts, continues to leave patients and staff suffering from the dilemma of are we expected to reduce staffing which is often named as the single largest element of expenditure thereby compromising quality of service delivery?

“Or are we expected to make local decisions about which services we can no longer afford to deliver? Is this the NHS we really all want?”

  1. Valerie Paynter Reply

    My own longstanding involvement with RSCH as a renal patient gives me a 26-year long view of it. I date the serious change downward for A&E back to the late 1990’s when suddenly the place was full of lairy scaries – clubbers, drunks and crazies on drugs. Terrifying.

    The universities should be FORCED to build supersurgeries out at Falmer and every student compulsorily registered with a campus-based GP. Their mega-thousands of profit-generating students need it and so does the RSCH A & E Dept. This too is a longstanding issue.

    The total loss of on-site nursing/on-call medical residential accommodation at the RSCH (replaced by the carpark and Renal unit) must be a factor too in failure to attract applicants for vacant posts. In a city prioritising overtrading universities, pouring waterfalls of their students into scarce city housing, consequences for basic infrastructure are dire – and the cost of all those students is too serious to keep on indulging.

    The RSCH needs to build itself a residential block for medical staff use again.

  2. Chris Reply

    How much has REALLY changed at the RSCH? I was admitted 15 years ago as a heart attack patient and discharged 6 days later with a standard set of pills that turned out to be incorrect and the real issue hadn’t been diagnosed. While in the hospital I saw so many things that gave me cause for concern – broken window patched with caedboard, blown light bulbs not replaced, lack of cleaning, night staff leaving everything to an agency nurse, obsolete equipment stored in a lavatory, fasting blood tests done after breakfast, a vital piece of equipment with no maintenance contract so nobody could fix it, junior consultants lording it over anyone they could including patients, complete disconnect between management and medical staff, secretaries unable to contact their consultants for a week on end, and that’s just a few. Many of the nurses were very good but didn’t stand a chance with all the other issues.

    More recently, I’ve been at the RSCH with a friend who has been in and out several times over a few months in A&E and a couple of wards. The hospital looks far cleaner than it used to and the health assistants and nursing staff were excellent. As far as doctors and consultants were concerned my friend never saw the same one twice and they all had their own theories. A&E seemed chaotic with the corridor triage/waiting area but one of the doctors there eventually hit on the right diagnosis and treatment for my friend. However trying to get medicine from the pharmacy was another matter, not just because it’s been located about as far from A&E as possible but because the prescription only had part of the information on it. The disconnect between medical staff, managers and administration was still there.

    I also have a friend who used to work in the admin side of the NHS and she was horrified at the inefficient methods, waste, ignorant managers who just looked at the figures and their own salaries, and a lack of “business like” processes to encourage smooth running.

    The NHS is a mighty complex organisation, medical equipment and treatments are getting more complicated, demands are getting higher and higher, expectations are getting higher and higher and yet all that seems to happen is another layer of management is injected that doesn’t have a clue.

    Is there any form of annual CARE survey done among the staff? Is there any sort of encouragement to make suggestions for change that will be taken seriously? Does the chief executive actually know how the place runs or just rely on the statistics and chinese whispers that reach him or her? How much time is wasted in non-productive meetings? Most workers in any organisation are far closer to the ground than their managers, they usually have a better understanding of what could make a difference and a lot would like to make a difference. It’s no use the hospital management, the GMB, or any other union, just trotting out the same old “it’s the Government’s fault” and “we told you so” – why not try some positive information gathering and co-operation with each other in order to show how improvements could be made? If a few unpalatable truths come out but it makes for a better hospital, or NHS, then so be it. Equally, it’s no use successive governments tinkering around with select committees, investigative bodies,etc. that just make things more complicated. I’m not blaming any one political party as they’re all as bad for organising a committee and thinking that will sort it out.

    Phew, nothing like a good rant to set me up for the day after breakfast!!

  3. Benny Reply

    We’ve taken up private medical insurance, after a bad experience in digestive diseases dept at RSC a year or so back. Difficult to afford but better. Curiously, you get to see RSC consultants at the Nuffield. Must have spare time on their hands.

    Digestive diseases took 4 months to diagnose gastritis, because they were looking for something else! Must say that the nurses were absolutely brilliant and as frustrated as I was by the incompetence of the doctors, the failure of the doctors to talk to each other, not to mention having to wait for the weekly 3 hour team meeting to finish before someone was available to authorise discharge.

    I’m a simple soul – if they want to save money, get patients in, mended correctly first time and out again quickly.

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