Staff and patients at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) are facing a new crisis today amid reports the trust is being placed into special measures.
The move, which had not been confirmed as the Lynn News went to press, is expected to be formally announced today amid continuing concerns over financial and treatment failings at the hospital.
A hospital spokesman yesterday said he could not comment on the development, but did confirm that the trust’s chairman, Kate Gordon, had resigned from her post on Tuesday.
He added that the hospital was continuing to operate as normal.
Chief executive Patricia Wright has also left her post, though it was announced last month that she would be leaving to take up a role as chief executive of the Royal College of Physicians.
Her notice period expires next week. Sharon Beamish has been appointed as acting chief executive.
The news comes just two months after damning reports by the Care Quality Commission and hospital regulator Monitor into standards of care and the trust’s financial position were made public.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said he understood that, although progress had been made to tackle the concerns raised in the reports, health service chiefs did not have confidence in the hospital’s management to achieve the necessary improvements.
He blamed a lack of continuity and strong leadership for the current problems.
Mr Bellingham said: “It has been very difficult for a small district general hospital to provide the level of services that my constituents expect in a tough financial climate.”
But he continued: “There’s no excuse for poor standards. Some of the areas of concern are not about money but about compassion and common sense.”
Although he estimated he received five or six letters from constituents praising care at the hospital for every letter of complaint, he said: “I have been getting far too many letters recently from constituents who have been dissatisfied with what is happening at the hospital.
“I have been going from having one a year to maybe one a week or two a week.”
Although representatives of NHS bodies said they could not comment on the special measures claims, it is understood that external management will be brought into the hospital to implement an action plan drawn up with Monitor in order to turn things around.
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said she and Mr Bellingham would be meeting ministers next month to discuss the problems at the hospital.
She said: “The Queen Elizabeth Hospital needs to provide the best possible health care for local residents.
“I visited the hospital two weeks ago and spoke of my concerns about accountability and operational practices with the leadership team.
“I hope this will give the hard working staff the much needed support to drive through the changes so that the QEH can be a first class hospital.”