Campaign Group requests an independent opinion into Worcestershire Acute Health Care Review

Save The Alex

Press Release 24/02/15

Campaign Group requests an independent opinion into Worcestershire Acute Health Care Review

Neal Stote, Chair of Save The Alex Campaign, has requested a management opinion from Gary Walker (SEE EDITORS NOTES Gary Walker’s Biography ) concerning how Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and others are handling the future of the Alexandra Hospital.

Neal Stote from Save the Alex campaign said,

“We have felt for some time that the local NHS have been unable to deal with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust approach to the future of the Alexandra Hospital. Yesterday’s meeting with the Secretary of State for Health proved that the NHS at the highest level is unwilling to take action on the word of a campaign group that believes Worcester Acute Hospitals trust is failing and that urgent action is required before patient care and key services suffer at not only the Alexandra Hospital but across the County of Worcestershire and wider health economy’s. (SEE EDITORS NOTES Points raised with Secretary of State for Health at meeting held 23/02/15)

The report once completed will be made available to all and at last we will have independent view of what has happened to date and what actions are required going forward”


Gary Walker’s Biography

Gary became one of the UK’s highest profile whistleblowers in February 2013 when he revealed how the NHS had spent £500,000 trying to gag him over a range of patient safety concerns he raised while working as a CEO at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. The NHS threatened to sue him if he continued to speak out but he went on to appear on BBC News, Sky News, The Today Programme, World at One, the Politics Show, Newsnight and a range of international media over the course of 2013. He gave evidence to Parliament’s Health Select Committee, which found the NHS had shown an “insensitivity and lack of discretion” and had been wrong to threaten to sue him over “legitimate patient safety concerns”.

Gary also worked with the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit office who initiated a year-long review into all gags in the public sector over the 5 years to 2013. But even they were unable to determine the number gags, total cost to the public purse, or just what was hidden by those contracts.

Prior to that Gary was a Chief Executive successfully turning around many of the most troubled organisations in the NHS. During 2005-2010 he was responsible for turning one organisation from a £36m annual deficit into one breaking-even and another from a £13m deficit into a £12m surplus, repaying historical debts, cutting waiting times in half and improving quality and safety.

Gary’s career spans public and private sectors where he spent over 20 years developing effective systems of governance and management. He now works independently offering organisations advice on how to turnaround their businesses and devotes considerable time charities and organisations with an interest in regulatory transparency and accountability. During 2013 he was part of a commission established by Public Concern at Work to review and recommend changes to whistleblowing laws and practices across the UK.

Gary lives in Lincolnshire and travels extensively. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing, Masters in Business Administration and a Graduate Diploma in Law. He enjoys sailing and is a qualified Yachtmaster.

Points raised with Secretary of State for Health at meeting held 23/02/15

1 – WAHT is not sustainable financially. It has run deficits for most of its existence. In the last financial year it posted a deficit of £14.2million, and this year is forecasting a deficit of £25million on top of historic debts of £18million. In addition it has or will borrow upwards of £30million to ensure it does not run out of cash. The plan to balance the books is based on a flawed reconfiguration process. It has never been, nor never will be financially sustainable.

2 – It has staffing issues. On top of widespread allegations of bullying and the resignation of 5 ED consultants, we are told by staff they fear patient safety is being compromised due to them being overstretched, having to work their leave to cover shifts and we even have the situation of paediatric nurses being asked to go and work as general nurses in A&E which they are not qualified to do.

Trust wide in the last two months allow more than 5,600 shifts have been undefiled. They have more than 250 vacant posts currently and a locum and agency bill forecast to overspend by £8million

3 – There are quality issues, such as it is missing key cancer targets for 62 day waits, 2ww all cancers and 2ww for breast cancer. It has not hit the A&E target at the Worcestershire Royal for more than a year (even before the latest round of pressure) and the Alex for four of the last 12 months. Staff tell us being treated in the corridor is now commonplace.

4 – HSMR rates are outside the upper control limits, running at 109 for the year to date but in September 2014 (latest available) they were 123 and the trend is upward.

5 – They have missed the RTT target for over a year and the number of inpatients waiting over 18 weeks has risen from 401 in December 2012 to 1,207 now.

6 – The Independent Clinical Review Panel that reported in January 2014 stated that the Alex A&E must remain as WRH could not cope with an extra 6,000 ambulances a year turning up on its doorstep and UHB has no capacity to cope either.

7 – It is said Worcestershire’s health economy could not survive if the Alex was taken over by UHB but we argue it cannot afford to not be taken over by UHB due to the pressure the loss of the Alex would place on the system which would damage patient care

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