Health secretary Andrew Lansley visits James Paget hospital

Health secretary Andrew Lansley today said the James Paget University Hospital was a good hospital, but it needed to be more open and acknowledging of its failings.

Mr Lansley also took time out during his visit to the Gorleston hospital to tell the EDP that everybody in the NHS has a 'responsibility to shout' if they see anything wrong with the quality of care.

The high profile visit, delayed from earlier this summer, was rescheduled at a time of turbulence for the James Paget, following hard upon the heels of two failed Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections and with results of a third expected next week.

Just a day after chairman John Hemming resigned, Mr Lansley acknowledged the hospital's leadership had been too slow to identify and rectify the concerns raised by the CQC, however he refused to be drawn into saying whether he thought chief executive Wendy Slaney should also fall on her sword.

The chief executive herself would only say that it was a team effort at the hospital, but she and newly-appointed interim chairman Peter Franzen did reveal they were confident the third report would show the James Paget had addressed problems around nutrition, feeding and meal times, but would be asked to improve its paperwork.

Mr Lansley, who also visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, said of the James Paget: 'I think the message that has come strongly through to me is that the trust has to be more open and acknowledging of things going wrong, when they go wrong, it has to be more systematic in ensuring that if things are going wrong they have identified it and done something about it, really open to staff and patients and the whole community who are very supportive of the hospital, in making sure that process of openness delivers a sense of where things are going well and where they are not going well.

'I suppose my message to the public of Yarmouth and Lowestoft and around is really to say this is where, across the NHS, we want to arrive at. It's a place where we know that hospitals like James Paget have done great work, are doing great work today and will do great work in the future, but where things go wrong people want to know that it's not covered up, that people aren't criticised for telling it like it really is, that where inspectors - be it CQC or the local LINks - or whoever it might be who raise concerns, that people act positively and quickly to deal with those so that people can be absolutely confident about the quality of services being provided. Not just the clinical care, but many of the other aspects of care - the personal care aspects - and that really high levels of quality are being achieved.'

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Meanwhile, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital held a public meeting last night in a bid to reassure patients over its standards following its first CQC report, and to allow people to raise their own concerns. The CQC's finding from its second follow up inspection are due in the next week or so.

Mr Lansley visited James Paget's stroke ward and said it was 'doing some really good work in terms of bringing together the disciplines to improve stroke results'.

Commenting on the CQC's concerns over dignity, privacy and nutrition, he said: 'What I think people should be aware of is, these were not issues about any patients immediately at risk, and I think the hospital and all of those who work here and those who support them from outside are very clear about making sure that patients get the clinical care that they should.

'What I think the concern essentially is about, is where there have been failings which were identified by the CQC, is a trust that has over the years provided very good care, sufficiently aware of where things have gone wrong and sufficiently quick and active in making sure that they put a system in place to ensure quality in the future?

'That's I think where CQC, in having come back from time to time, have expressed themselves as very concerned, and where clearly from John Hemming's point of view he felt that that essentially was a criticism not of the doctors and nurses but of, as it were, of the leadership of the trust.'