Lack of investment reason for East Lancashire hospitals' failings says troubleshooter (From Chorley Citizen)
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Lack of investment reason for East Lancashire hospitals' failings says troubleshooter
THE man tasked with overseeing the turnaround of East Lancashire’s hospitals said they may have suffered a lack of long-term investment by the NHS.
But Sir Leonard Fenwick, who has been drafted in from a top performing hospital trust in Newcastle, said he was still confident the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General can get out of special measures.
He and 12 colleagues have made contact with their counterparts at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust as they look to share best practice and offer guidance on ways to improve.
The government-led scheme echoes the ‘super heads’ programme which has improved some of the worst schools in the country, with the ‘mentor trusts’ offered financial bonuses for achieving good results.
Sir Leonard is the longest serving hospital chief executive in the NHS, after becoming a management trainee at the age of 18.
He worked his way up the ladder at Newcastle hospitals and helped to lead a merger of three facilities to create Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, which won the Dr Foster Hospital of the Year award in 2004. He was knighted in 2008.
Sir Leonard suggested the disbanded strategic health authority for the North West should shoulder some of the blame for the major shortcomings in East Lancashire.
He said: “I’m not so sure that capital investment in the North West has been as good as it should have been. Some strategic health authorities were more worried about the day-to-day operational matters that need to be addressed.
“I think there is some legacy there that needs a whole re-assessment. The trusts need to come together and have dialogue and make best use of the assets they have.”
The trust was placed in special measures in July, after NHS inspectors made wide-ranging criticisms about the way the organisation was run over several years, but Sir Leonard said he was impressed with the way bosses have responded.
He said: “They are to be commended because we’ve been very much welcomed. They are a positive organisation and share information with no holds barred. I’ve found them to be very keen to work with us and there are some smashing staff there.
“From my perspective, they are not a failing organisation and I think we can learn from East Lancashire as well.
“It’s like turning the clock back to when we had more co-operation and sharing of best practice in the NHS.”
Focus has so far been on the numbers and skill mix of nursing staff, governance and decision-making processes, and ways to reduce emergency admissions.
One major strength of the Newcastle trust appears to be its continuity of senior staff, with Sir Leonard in post for the past 10 years, whereas ELHT has had five people in the top job since 2005.
But building confidence among staff and patients will be the biggest challenge. Sir Leonard said: “Confidence can take a knock when you are listed as needing help, and once that starts to fall things can be very difficult.”
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