Trust promises to 'get it right'
HEALTH chiefs have reassured families that improvements can be seen at Stafford Hospital following sweeping changes.
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust chairman John Caldwell took part in a public meeting in Stone last night, heralding a new era of open communication with the communities it serves.
The meeting heard how incidents of hospital acquired infections are decreasing, mortality rates are improving and waiting times are reducing.
Professor Caldwell said: "We have a commitment to openness and transparency.
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"It's about grassroots ownership and we will do our best to listen on a regular basis."
The meeting coincided with news that the conclusions of Robert Francis QC, chairman of an independent inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital, will not be made public until October 15, after being put back from the summer.
The Healthcare Commission, now called the Care Quality Commission (CQC), previously found poor standards put patients at risk and between 400 and 1,200 more people died than expected between 2005 and 2008.
Managers blamed publicity surrounding the scandal for difficulties recruiting staff, which meant it had to impose a night-time shutdown of its A&E department in December.
Lyn Hill-Tout, who was appointed chief executive of the trust a year ago, said: "We know people in the communities have been badly affected and it makes us more passionate about getting it right in the future.
"There is a huge legacy and there are still some times when we are not getting it right.
"We want to assure people the hospital is not closing or downgrading. A&E is due to reopen on June 11. Six new emergency doctors have been recruited.
"We still have too many serious untoward incidents reported and there are concerns over patients being discharged with cannulas (drainage tubes) in their arms.
"We are giving a lot of time and attention to see how we can improve things."
The trust is now considering involving GPs or community nurses in the emergency and urgent care admissions department.
Consultation will take place in the next couple of months and the changes could be implemented as soon as October.
Stone councillor Jill Hood said: "I want to know how is the trust guaranteeing those patients who do not have a voice, the elderly and the vulnerable are being safeguarded properly?"
In response, Colin Ovington, director of nursing at the trust, said: "We are using advocates where they are required and particularly with elderly people we have a dementia team working across the hospital to help those vulnerable patients. There are still gaps but we are improving."