A meeting between trade union representatives at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the MP for North West Norfolk, Henry Bellingham, has been described as positive by both sides.
Darren Barber, secretary of the UNISON branch, and chairman of the hospital’s staff forum, and JoAnne Rust, secretary of King’s Lynn Trade Council, held talks about the issues at the QEH with the MP yesterday morning. The hospital was recently placed in special measures, after critical reports from the Care Quality Commission, and Monitor.
Mr Bellingham told the trade unionists that he wished to see all those involved “working together constructively, to get the hospital into the best possible place it can be”. He went on to to describe any loss of specialities at the QEH as an “absolute tragedy”, and felt strongly that the hospital must retain its “critical mass”, and wanted to build up the services it provides.
Mr Bellingham also agreed to arrange a meeting between himself, Mr Barber, Ms Rust, and Dr Ian Mack, chairman of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (WNCCG).
Furthermore, the MP also agreed to take up Mr Barber’s concerns as to why Jeremy Hunt was introducing legislation that would enable the health minister to close any hospital, and that the meeting had been “positive and constructive”. He also said he would work closely with both WNCCG and the hospital’s new management, in order to safeguard services.
“We were pleased with the meeting, it was certainly a positive,” said Mr Barber. “We heard what we wanted to hear, and now trust that our MP will continue to act on behalf of the people of West Norfolk. It has certainly been our view that the root cause of problems in the hospital have been down to a lack of government funds, deep cuts bleed. We feel this has been partially acknowledged by the government, in its award of an extra £3.9 million for the A&E. But this still doesn’t go far enough, and fear that our hospital is being run down by stealth. Yet we are proud of our hospital, and all the magnificent work of its dedicated, hard-working, staff.”
Ms Rust said: “I was relieved to hear Henry talk so positively and firmly about the partnership working he wanted to do with UNISON, the trades council, the hospital management, and the CCG, to safeguard our local services and local jobs.”
She said Mr Bellingham “ seemed quite clear of the vital need to protect, improve, and expand the services our hospital offers”.