Letter: Jonathan Powell, November 4, 2014

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I refer to the letter from the UKIP candidate for North West Norfolk Toby Coke (Lynn News, October 17), in which he launched a strong attack on both our local Queen Elizabeth Hospital and on our local MP, Henry Bellingham.

As a former non-executive director of the QEH, I am well aware of some of the specific failings that were flagged up in the Care Quality Commission`s (CQC) report of last year which resulted in the Hospital going into special measures.

The CQC identified a number of key areas that required improvement, including the performance of A & E, reliance on agency nurses and financial management.

Since then, a recovery programme has been in place, and to back this up, a number of new key executives have been appointed. Throughout all of this, the staff have been working tirelessly to pull the Hospital round. Indeed, there has never been a lack of compassion or commitment on their part, a point emphasised by the CQC.

Contrary to the UKIP candidate’s claims, the recent CQC interim report identifies very significant progress, and praises the staff for being kind, caring and proud to work in the trust. The CQC went on to highlight a number of areas of outstanding practice. There is of course some way to go but the direction is set firm.

In attacking the hospital in this way, the UKIP candidate has come very close to undermining the staff, from the top to the bottom of the hospital, and the marvellous effort they make every day of every week to improve the care they bring to all of us in this constituency. I find it very telling, that the local Labour candidate, who has never shied away from criticising Henry Bellingham on many issues, echoes my view when she praised the hospital staff and offered them her support in facing these challenges.

From my own experience Henry Bellingham was, and I believe remains, an outstanding supporter of the hospital and I have every reason to suppose that the management and staff would share my view. In my time, he was always a regular visitor to the QEH and I am sure that nothing has changed. I would not be surprised to learn that the number of visits he has made to the hospital as our MP exceeds 100 and I am absolutely certain that he has always fought hard for the hospital.

In short, I’m afraid that the UKIP candidate’s attack on the QEH and on Henry Bellingham personally is both ill informed and ill judged.

Jonathan Powell,

North Creake