I share concerns about Addenbrooke’s hospital being put into special measures and that such a highly regarded hospital which was ranked as one of the safest in the country just two years ago, can deteriorate in this way.
It is important to note that inspectors rated the quality of care in Addenbrooke’s as outstanding, describing staff as caring and skilled. I understand that the key contributor to the ‘inadequate’ rating was under-staffing, particularly in maternity and A&E. I believe Addenbrooke’s also faced problems discharging patients when they were ready to go home. Indeed, at the time Addenbrooke’s reported a major incident, the then Chief Executive stated that 200 beds were taken up with patients who could not leave because there was not the social care in place to support them.
I also share fears that Addenbrooke’s may not be an isolated case.
The NHS is under pressure because of decisions the Government has made. Cuts to older people’s care in the home means it is harder to see a GP and hospitals have become dangerously full. Cuts to nurse training commissions means a shortage of qualified nurses and a reliance on expensive agency staff. Hospitals across the country are facing a stark choice between balancing the books and delivering safe care.
It is vital, therefore, that Ministers take action if the NHS is to get through the next year without more hospitals failing. The Government promised more funding for the NHS by 2020. However, that money is needed now and I support calls by the Shadow Health Secretary for that investment to be front-loaded so that cases like Addenbrooke’s are not a sign of things to come.
I hope the Government listen to those calls and the concern of everyone up and down the country who rely on and care about our NHS.