I take very seriously the findings of the Francis Report into chronic failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. It is a thorough report into some appalling lapses in care and standards, and it is right that appropriate action is taken right across the NHS to ensure these failings are not repeated anywhere else in England.
Most people receive excellent care from clinicians in the NHS, and I want to pay tribute to the many thousands of doctors and nurses that work round the clock to ensure that happens. Sadly, as we’ve seen, there are occasions where the NHS sometimes falls short of those standards.
I am not in the business of running my local hospital down. Most people using Tameside Hospital will only ever have experienced the best of care possible. But it would be incorrect to say that is a complete picture. I know from my own constituency casework, that there are people who have been let down by Tameside Hospital. And the hospital continues to feature on the radar of both Monitor, the Foundation Trust regulator, and of the Care Quality Commission. Some improvements have been made, but in my opinion, not quickly enough.
I don’t think Tameside is another Mid Staffordshire, but there are fundamental issues that do need to be resolved. I have previously gone on the record saying there is need for a change in leadership at the hospital. I stand by that view. The current chief executive has presided over a series of crises over a number of years, and yet the issues at the hospital remain. I think we need a fresh approach to Tameside’s problems that will only come about with a new chief executive to provide a fresh viewpoint and new direction.
Of course, on one level it’s extremely disappointing that Tameside is one of five problem hospitals in England identified by the NHS Chief Medical Director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. But it is also an opportunity.
I wholeheartedly welcome his investigation, and patients and staff should have nothing to fear.
I hope Sir Bruce’s high-level input will result in some clear change, real action and most importantly – visible improvements – at Tameside Hospital, so that our borough can have the best NHS hospital services possible: the kind of services that frankly Tameside people deserve.
Andrew Gwynne is the Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish, a constituency in Greater Manchester that is partly served by Tameside General Hospital, and a member of Labour’s frontbench Shadow Health Team.
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY TAMESIDE’S MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
Tameside MPs Jonathan Reynolds, David Heyes and Andrew Gwynne said:
“We welcome this inquiry into Tameside Hospital.
“The people of Tameside deserve access to hospital services and healthcare that they can trust – but for too long there have been strong indications that this has not been the case.
“Although there are signs that the hospital has been making some improvements, we are still contacted by too many people who complain about delayed and poor treatment.
“As MPs, we have worked consistently with the Hospital, the CQC and Monitor to ensure care is of the requisite standard and that local people can have confidence that it is. At times we have had to be extremely frank with the Hospital management about how they are viewed by our constituents, and request changes to key personnel. The inquiry is an opportunity to continue the scrutiny that the Hospital needs.
“The full remit of this inquiry is yet to be published – but, above all, it must have the full power to act on its findings.
“We look forward to working with it to ensure the long-term future of a strong local hospital in Tameside”.
The three Tameside MPs have met regularly with Tameside Hospital’s chairman and chief executive, as well as with representatives from the Care Quality Commission and Monitor and will continue to do so.