Call for East Lancs hospitals bosses to quit

Royal Blackburn Hospital, Blackburn
Royal Blackburn Hospital, Blackburn

“Quit or be sacked” is the call to the beleaguered boss of East Lancashire hospitals from a former Burnley MP following another damning report into hospital standards.

Mr Peter Pike said Mark Brearley, chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, should step aside after stinging criticism of the Royal Blackburn Hospital’s emergency services by the Care Quality Commission.

Peter Pike

Peter Pike

The watchdog made an unannounced visit in July to the Royal Blackburn Hospital after concerns were raised by a “whistleblower” about its A &E department.

The Trust is currently in special measures after severe problems were identified in the wake of the Keogh inquiry into failing hospitals.

Mr Pike said: “The recent Keogh report highlighted so many of the problems and failures that have been pointed out time after time. I had hoped Mark Brearley would accept responsibility and resign.

“It is my view he should do so now or regrettably be sacked. The Trust is now in special measures and being given assistance and guidance from another trust.

“Unfortunately at the end if the Trust is continuing to fail and has lost the confidence of the patients’ champion and the public it serves the final person responsible must be the chief executive and he should go and go now.”

Following the CQC visit, the hospital’s emergency services were found to be failing on three out of four standards.

Inspectors found:

• Patients waiting all day for operations which were cancelled in the evening;

• Poor care and record-keeping;

• Inadequate patient assessment and risk management;

• Occasions when patients were being treated without the use of privacy curtains;

• Lack of formal children’s safeguarding training among staff in A&E.

Mr Brearley said: “We have taken the concerns raised within this report very seriously and have an action plan we have shared with the CQC. This inspection took place in July following the Keogh Review and we have already addressed a number of issues.”

Mr Brearley said the Trust had implemented the following plans:

• Improved risk assessment for patients presenting at Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre who are at risk of falls;

• Identified Matrons to oversee the care of patients in escalation areas;

• Increased bed capacity by opening a ward (24 beds) at Burnley General Hospital;

• Additional beds will be opened at the Royal Blackburn Hospital (35 beds) as part of the winter plan by mid-December;

• Doubled capacity to care for patients at home from 150 to 300;

• Established clear monitoring to the Trust board;

• Improving staffing levels by recruiting an extra 70 nursing and midwifery staff.

He added: “We still face a challenge and will continue to work really hard to get things right. We have an excellent workforce we are very proud of, who are committed and deliver excellent care every day.”

The Trust held its annual meeting at Burnley Town Hall this week where several members of the public attended.

They heard from acting chairman Mr Martin Hall who admitted there had been “an unexpected demand for services last winter, well above what we had planned for”.

Director of finance Mr Jonathan Wood gave an update on the latest financial position, revealing all targets had been achieved, but said the future would pose an increasing challenge.