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New NHS data puts Norfolk hospitals near the bottom of national league table

PUBLISHED: 13:56 26 June 2014 | UPDATED: 10:14 27 June 2014

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. PHOTO: IAN BURT

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. PHOTO: IAN BURT

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Health chiefs have spoken of their confidence in rising up the NHS rankings after Norfolk’s three acute hospitals were placed in the bottom half of a patient safety league table.

Consultation ahead of hospital inspection

Patients in west Norfolk are being urged to share their views on the standard of care provided at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital ahead of an inspection by the health regulator.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be holding a listening event at the Dukes Head Hotel, in King’s Lynn from 6.30pm on Tuesday and are inviting members of the public to tell them what they think of services. England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, said people’s views and experiences would help inspectors decide what to look at when they inspect the trust.

The King’s Lynn hospital will be one of the first to be given a more rigorous inspection by the CQC and will be given one of the following ratings: outstanding, good, requires improvement, or inadequate

New data has been published by the government, which aims to allow patients to compare key safety measures across hundreds of NHS trusts in England.

Out of more than 1,300 hospitals, community hospitals and health facilities on the new Department of Health league table, the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, was ranked 1,003rd, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital came 1,150th and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn was 1,225th on the list.

However, officials from the three Norfolk hospitals said they had been marked down because of concerns raised in their last Care Quality Commission inspections and measures had an action plan had already been put in place.

The government hopes to improve NHS transparency by publishing seven safety indicators on the NHS Choices website, which revealed that nursing and midwifery staffing levels were lower than planned at the QEH, James Paget and the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Pledge on NHS openness

Whistleblowers could be given new protections as part of a drive to promote safety and openness in the NHS aimed at saving up to 6,000 lives over the next three years, the government has announced.

Sir Robert Francis QC, who headed the inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal, will chair a new independent review into whistleblowing in the NHS and how front-line staff can be supported when they act in the public interest by raising their concerns. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also launched the Sign Up To Safety campaign for NHS trusts aimed at halving avoidable harm and save up to 6,000 lives over the next three years. Twelve trusts - none of which are in East Anglia - are already developing plans as part of the campaign.

Mr Hunt said tackling unsafe care and avoidable harm such as medication errors, blood clots and bed sores would not only help patients but would save the NHS money. A 2007 study estimated the cost of “adverse events” due to medication errors at £774m per year and the NHS currently spends around £1.3bn a year on litigation claims.

Liz Libiszewski, director of nursing, quality and patient experience at the JPH, said the hospital trust had invested an extra £1.3m to hire more nurses.

“We welcome the greater openness and the fact that it will allow patients and the public to see detailed information in one place in order to be confident in our care. We also welcome the opportunity for further feedback via NHS Choices which many patients already use to talk about their experiences at our hospital,” she said.

The JPH is amongst the best in England for infection control, according to the data. However, CQC inspection at the Gorleston hospital in November raised concerns in the ways medication was administered and recorded.

A spokesman for the QEH, which was placed in special measures by Monitor in October, said 100 nurses had left the trust in the last year, but 117 had been recruited. He added that a dozen new nurses from Spain would be starting this week.

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital added: “We are committed to a culture of openness and transparency and report detailed information about our performance at our board each month as well as publishing it on our website.

“We welcome the launch of the new NHS Choices microsite, which brings a range of patient safety data into one place to make it easier for patients and the public to see how their local hospital is performing.”

Inspectors from the CQC said that not all patients were treated with respect when they observed wards at the N&N in December where they focused on the care of people with dementia.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the N&N, added: “The general public funds the service, and they are the ‘customer’. The customer should know what they can expect from our service, and we have published data about quality and more for some years.”

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