“No one wants to see this hospital fail” is the message from the two men who have taken charge of crisis-hit Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Chairman David Dean and chief executive Manjit Obhrai have sent apologies to staff and patients for the problems seen at the Gayton Road site but insist the hospital is safe.
The pair, who arrived this week after being brought in by regulator Monitor, will be tackling head-on the problems raised around the quality of patient care raised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS England.
The turnaround plan includes sharing best nursing practice with London’s St Guy’s and St Thomas Foundation NHS Trust along with listening sessions with staff.
Mr Obhrai, who was a key player in the turnaround of Mid Staffordshire Hospital Foundation Trust, said: “We are taking the CQC comments seriously and want to apologise to patients that had possibly suffered poor care.
“The clinicians are more up to dealing with changes that are necessary. We don’t under-estimate the task in hand.”
Mr Dean added: “We should apologise to staff who have borne the brunt of staffing levels. We have started to pull that around.”
Staffing levels were one of the key problems highlighted by the recent reports and a major recruitment campaign has started with 71 Portuguese nurses due to be in place by Christmas along with 40 new healthcare assistants.
The hospital is to work in partnership with St Guy’s, a world leader in nursing. Nurses from the London hospital will be coming to Lynn to share best practice and provide advice while QEH staff will be visiting St Guy’s.
Other issues at the hospital which will be addressed include dementia care, trips and falls. Mr Obhrai says these can be addressed quickly and is keen to get staff involved in the changes.
He said: “We will walking the floor to meet the staff and listen to their concerns. They are key players.”
Mr Dean said: “There a level of positivity from the staff. From those I have spoken to there is a willingness to change and take it forward.”
Mr Obhrai was keen not to compare the QEH with Mid-Staffs but said the whole NHS was facing an issue with ensuring that patients are treated in the right place.
He said: “There a challenge for the health industry to make sure that frail elderly patients who shouldn’t be in hospital are treated elsewhere and reduce unnecessary admissions. That is equally important to every hospital I have worked in.”
Mr Dean said: “I am grateful Manjit is here given his experience but this is not the Mid-Staffordshire, no where near.”
The other difficult area the hospital is facing is finance. The QEH is expected to be £3 million in the red by the end of the year. Mr Dean, who has a background in investment banking, this would be the most difficult area to solve.
He said: “My view is to control the things we can, which is the quality of service and doing it effectively as we possibly can.
“We already have a certain amount of support in terms of funds the NHS have given us to address staff issues. I don’t think anybody wants this hospital to fail financially.”
Mr Dean said he has been impressed by the amount of public support for the hospital.
He said: “I have been pleasantly surprised in some ways to see a hospital that has a great deal of loyalty from its patients and general public.”