Ipswich Hospital: Sort it out, Mr Reed

IPSWICH/SUFFOLK: Sometimes it takes a very close friend to tell you things are going wrong.

Ipswich Hospital and The Evening Star share a very close relationship. At many levels there is real and lasting friendship.

But today, we at the Star are sending a big wake-up call to the hospital’s boss and his team over the care they have afforded elderly people on their wards.

It is “wake-up, shake-up and sort it out once and for all” message to Andrew Reed and Co after the damning Care Quality Commission report reported in The Evening Star yesterday.

In just a few hours of Thursday many people reacted in fury over the report.

It detailed a series of harrowing failings in the way some of our senior citizens have been treated at Heath Road.

The failings at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust cast a shadow over the county and its primary hospital yesterday – and managers struggled to deal with the avalanche of criticism that spewed forth.

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In some senses it was another great failing that the trust’s management team, who had been given copies of the CQC report in advance, hadn’t seen the scale of the PR difficulty it faced.

The hospital was forced into hastily-arranged newspaper, radio and TV interviews, with chief executive Reed struggling, on the back foot and defensive.

Yes, Andrew, we all know that so much good is done at our hospital.

Yes, we all know your hospital was praised in some parts of the report.

And yes, we are all aware of the brilliant staff and volunteers who run at hospital night and day, 365 days a year.

Respectfully, this success if what we expect Mr Reed.

But please don’t try to chuck that in as any kind of “soothing balance” to the horrors uncovered by the CQC.

And please listen to the outpouring of anger and grief from all those who feel they have been let down by Ipswich Hospital in recent years.

Yesterday, Mr Reed said he would be “extremely disappointed” if similar failings were found in another monitoring visit in the future.

He knows, as do we, that another CQC visit will come soon and when least expected – and we, too, hope and pray that standards will be found to have rocketed and the hospital duly praised.

But the chief executive knows that any more failings will not be tolerated – the vast swathe of management personnel at Ipswich Hospital will be held to account if there is a repeat.

Mr Reed, as six-year “captain of the ship” will himself be held to account.

One aspect of the CQC report is that it crushes much of the positive spirit at Heath Road – and damages a sometimes wafer-thin morale. That’s the other upside of “getting it right.”

Today were posing the following questions to Mr Reed.

1) Which managers were responsible for the levels of care in the wards named by the CQC and is any disciplinary action under way as a result?

2) Which member of the senior management team was responsible for the care of elderly patients and is any action under way as a result?

3) What steps have you put in place to end the difficulties identified by the CQC?

4) Was cost-cutting any reason for the serious lapses?

5) Has the hospital and its senior team been distracted by the ongoing and seemingly long-winded and resource-sapping bid for Foundation Trust Status?

6) Will you be referring the difficulties discovered by the CQC to Monitor, the watchdog deciding on Foundation Trust Status?

7) Do you know of any other area of the hospital, wards, or clinics, or day care areas, where old people have to suffer indignity during their care? If so, where are they and what are you doing about it?

8) Have you thought about appointing an Ipswich Hospital Tsar, reporting directly to you, to speak for the elderly patients who might not be able to speak for themselves? If not, why not. If yes, what is the next step?

9) Will you set up a special inquiry in to what was revealed in the CQC report?

10) Will you launch inquiries in to all of the complaints which have emerged in recent hours – to check is any of the issues are still happening?

We at The Evening Star join tens of thousands in our county in a sense of love and admiration for much of what happens at our hospital.

But today’s five-page report shows our deep levels of concern, matched by those of Ipswich MPs and many other experts.

Today we say, Sort It Out, Mr Reed – and, please, don’t ever let our vulnerable old folk down again.

- Buy today’s Evening for a five-page special report on the hospital.