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QEH debt revealed but improvements underway for new leadership team

King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital finished its financial year above its target but is still roughly £36 million in debt.

Caroline Shaw, the chief executive of the hospital, said the hospital has worked with the wider health economy and with a “fair wind we should achieve our financial plan.”

Professor Steve Barnett, the chairman of the trust, said the hospital now has more accurate budget reporting.

“We have much stronger plans in place to ensure our cost improvements are on track month by month.”

Mrs Shaw added that one of the challenges has been the location when recruiting new staff.

And she said that international recruitment has made a huge difference instead of using agency staff.

Caroline Shaw and Steve Barnett
Caroline Shaw and Steve Barnett

The hospital had announced 80 nurses from the Philippines will be joining this year.

“We have probably saved around a third of the cost. It is about how the work force is utilised,” Mrs Shaw said.

“We want to be really innovative on the workforce opportunities here which has not always been in place at other places I have worked at in the past.”

However, Prof Barnett later said: “We shouldn’t have to keep going abroad to recruit staff to work here.

“We should be making the most of what’s on our own doorstep.”

Mrs Shaw said the hospital is encouraging placements for medical students.

“We need to accept people when they are in training to then follow it through. It’s bringing back the traditional skills of nursing.”

Steve Barnett and Caroline Shaw
Steve Barnett and Caroline Shaw

The hospital is also still likely to be in special measures when new reports come out later this summer.

“There are issues around particular areas that are in progress,” Mrs Shaw said.

“We were only in around Christmas. There has been changes to the leadership at the executive team.

“These changes do not happen overnight. There is a really practical plan in place and there is also a need to improve.”

The trust was ranked 40th in the United Kingdom for A&E compared to “in the 100s” previously.

Mrs Shaw continued: “There are greenshoots of improvement . The journey we are on will take a couple of years. We started the journey still in special measures.”

Prof Barnett said both himself and Mrs Shaw have previous experience of taking trusts out of special measures.

The hospital has buddied up with the Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust to focus on supporting the QEH.

Sherwood Forest was rated good by the Care Quality Commission last year.

It is hoped the trust will help to improve Lynn’s hospital, which was rated inadequate in September.

As well as opening a prayer room for Muslim staff, the hospital is introducing a memory tree near the Macmillan cancer centre for those who have lost a loved one.

“It’s aboutbringing the compassion back into care,” Mrs Shaw said.

“Statistics are statistics. We want compassionate care and we have just got to get to the basics of delivering really good care to our local population.

“People do not understand managerial targets or jargon. I want to see the care being provided that would be given to my husband, son or daughter. Let’s focus on that.”

Prof Barnett added: “A lot of innovation is taking place here to take into account dying patients’ wishes to make it more compassionate.”

Taking into account whether someone wants to die at home or in a hospice rather than at hospital is something the hospital has been exploring.

Mrs Shaw said the recent coverage of the Arthur Levin Day Surgery on Channel W was “one of the best things” the hospital has done this year.

“I am extremely proud of it and it has given the hospital a real good vibe.

“It also makes people proud of our hospital again.”

And Prof Barnett said the hospital is working hard to create more of a presence within the community.

“We have visitation with groups of school children where they have hands-on involvement,” he said.

“We wanted to do a lot more along this lines. People can assume everything is wrong on the back of reports but that is not the case.

“The majority of what we do is of a high class with high quality care for patients.”


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