20 Oct Harlow Council committed to help support Hospital improvements
Harlow Council is committed to help support the town’s Princess Alexandra Hospital after the Trust which runs it was rated as “inadequate” by regulators the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) is a major hospital serving a large area of around 350,000 people and it is in an area of potential future housing growth. We are proud of the work that all the staff do at the hospital to serve such a big area and cope with unprecedented levels of demand. Although there are concerns raised in this inspection and challenges to overcome there are examples of the hospital’s staff providing outstanding services. The CGC rated Maternity and Gynaecology as “outstanding”, one of a few in the country to have achieved this rating. The CQC found many areas to praise identifying good practice during their inspection, including a rating of “good” for caring. This illustrates the commitment and dedication of staff in providing services every day and I welcome the plans that are already in place by the Trust to make improvements.
“I recognise that there will be concerns from the community and we are not going to leave the hospital on its own. We are working with them and West Essex CCG and will continue to do so to offer what support we can to help the hospital improve and secure its future. This will include working with organisations to look at sites for the Hospital’s possible relocation as part of the Local Development Plan. We recognise that relocation won’t be possible without the funding and this in itself is a major challenge to overcome in light of public sector funding reductions.
“No-one wants to see any public service get an ‘inadequate’ inspection result or be placed in ‘special measures’. However this will bring attention and hopefully the prioritisation of resources and funding to make the improvements to the hospital which are necessary.”
The Trust has now been placed into Special Measures and will be receiving a package of support from NHS Improvement. This includes the support of a dedicated Improvement Director; who has already started work with the Trust. The Council recognises the underfunding of hospitals and looks forward to seeing an investment programme to address the systemic infrastructure challenges of PAH. It also looks forward to working with partners, including NHS England, on bringing forward proposals for a new hospital to serve the communities of Harlow and the surrounding Districts.
The CQC found issues regarding the hospital’s capacity, performance in the Emergency Department and the resultant delays in admitting and discharging patients, staffing vacancies and some systems and processes. It is important that people only present themselves at the Emergency Department if it is truly an emergency. This will help the hospital to cope with the huge pressures on its services.