Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review into the quality of care and treatment provided by East Lancashire Hospitals makes for uncomfortable reading.
Sadly, as someone who has helped many residents with health complaints, the report’s finding that the hospitals’ complaints process was poor and lacking a compassionate approach did not surprise me.
All too often when residents have complained about local services, they have been made to feel like a nuisance and their concerns dismissed. This has to change.
Every year, our NHS positively transforms the lives of millions of people and we should be deeply proud of this, but when things fall short of what patients and their families expect, the NHS should be open and honest.
It is clear that, in the past, some hospital bosses have tried to avoid negative publicity whenever possible and this consideration has been put ahead of patients’ dignity and respect.
This report marks the start of an intensive improvement programme for our local hospitals and I have already spoken to the Chief Executive, Mark Brearley, and received his assurances that significant changes will be made. I will be looking for these changes emerging through the cases that residents bring to me so frequently.
I have also met the local Clinical Commissioning Group and am encouraged by their desire to play a proactive role.
Given what the report says about capacity issues at Blackburn Hospital and that the hospital is “struggling to deal with the number of patients”, serious questions again have to be asked about the decision to downgrade Burnley Hospital’s A&E Department in 2007.
Since I was elected, we have secured a £9m. investment into the Urgent Care Centre at Burnley General, but it is clear the hospital bosses need to do much more.