'Stronger' leadership needed at Shropshire's hospitals - Lucy Allan

Stronger and more experienced leadership is needed at the trust running Shropshire's two main hospitals, Telford's MP has said.

Telford MP Lucy Allan
Telford MP Lucy Allan

Lucy Allan claims managers at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (Sath), which has been rated inadequate overall by the Care Quality Commission, seem 'oblivious to the gravity of the situation'.

Leadership and the safety of services were both rated 'inadequate' at the trust, leading to calls for its chief executive to resign.

However, Simon Wright has refused to step down and the trust's chairman Ben Reid has said that too much change could get in the way of driving improvement.

Health bosses say work is under way to make improvements, but Ms Allan claims new management is needed.

She said: "They are still acting as if this lowest possible rating is nothing out of the ordinary – they said that the rating was as expected and pointed to areas of good practice – it’s an extraordinary response to such a serious matter.

"They don’t seem to have heard what the inspectors have had to say and that in itself is a risk factor for the organisation as a whole.

“This management team has shown it is not capable of addressing the problems it faces.

"Nor will it be able to take the organisation through the planned reconfiguration that is Future Fit. It cannot be right to force that through, against the known wishes of local people, at a time when the trust is struggling on so many other fronts.

“It’s time for stronger more experienced senior leadership to take control of events and lead this organisation forward with an honest approach to the challenges faced.”

Heath commissioners have responded to the CQC report saying they will continue to support the trust to improve services.

In a joint statement, Dr Julian Povey, chair of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and Dr Jo Leahy, chair of Telford & Wrekin CCG, said: "The report highlights a number of areas of concern and improvements are needed.

"Clearly the trust has a lot of work to do, but it is important to also acknowledge the many positive aspects of its work including its good rating for caring and the hard work, energy, and enthusiasm of all the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals and staff delivering a wide range of services to the public."

The CQC says concerns remain around A&E and maternity services in particular at the trust.

Caroline Klage is head of the child brain injury department at Bolt Burdon Kemp, a London-based law firm specialising in claims for serious injury, and travels all over the country on a variety of cases.

She said it was 'shocking' to hear the trust had such a 'poor culture'.

But she also claimed it was 'not too surprising' given the issues the trust has recently experienced, particularly relating to maternity care.

An independent review into baby deaths and injuries at Shropshire's hospitals is now thought to be looking at more than 200 cases.

Sath says it has been making improvements to maternity care.

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