Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has stated he expects to find more failing hospital. He said the new inspection regime for hospitals which began its roll-out this week, is likely to highlight more trusts that will need turning around.
This follows the revelation that 11 trusts have been put under special measures following a review by Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, into the standard of care at the 14 trusts with the worst death rates.
It has been decided that managers from top NHS hospitals will be tasked with going into failing hospitals and providing support on improvements. Mr Hunt stated there were a “handful of inspirational leaders….anxious to help”.
Debate has opened up on whether these managers’ own hospitals will suffer as they leave their hospitals to help others. However Mr Hunt has said managers’ posts would be back-filled. It was added that management consultants have been favoured in the past and have only helped by identifying problems rather than solving them.
He has admitted that solving the problems will not be easy and said “turning around our failing hospitals is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we are facing today. It is entirely possible, even likely, other hospitals will have to go into special measures.”
One of the managers taking part, Dame Julie Moore, stated “I don’t think we’re talking about upping sticks and abandoning our home base. Instead the plan would be more focused on and around sharing knowledge and expertise, particularly over IT.”
Chief executive of the King’s Fund think tank, Prof Chris Ham, said “Bringing in experienced NHS managers has huge potential as long as they are given time to bring about change and have enough resources, and, crucially, their own hospitals are able to have the right leadership while their focus is elsewhere.”
He added “We’ve got to get the detail right – it’s got to be a long-term objective. In principle if we get it right, it will level up standards, if we get it wrong it could level down standards.”