Bury St Edmunds: West Suffolk Hospital boss admits ‘some complacency’

THE chairman of the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust has presented his board with a frank report which said there was a “tendency to explain away problems” and “some degree of complacency”.

The document has been written by Roger Quince in response to Robert Francis QC’s inquiry into a string of care failures at Mid Staffs Hospital, in Stafford, where patients were found lying in their own faeces and where some died needlessly.

The Francis Report, which was published last year, revealed how the Mid Staffs board had failed to act despite being aware of a number of issues and complaints at the trust.

Mr Quince said the aim of his report was to ensure lessons were learned to ensure the Mid Staffs failings were never repeated at the West Suffolk in Bury St Edmunds.

He said: “The number, nature and focus of complaints at Mid Staffs should have alerted the board to the fact the trust had problems that went beyond the norm.

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“We must ensure that our analysis of complaints gives us an accurate picture of the areas for concern within West Suffolk Hospital.

“This analysis must be carefully thought through and must be sufficiently fine-grained to pick up problems at, for example, individual ward or clinic level.

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“In deciding whether to pursue an issue, the key conclusion arising from Mid Staffs for all boards is to take something seriously until it is proven not to be a problem, rather than trying to explain something away.”

Asking himself how West Suffolk measured up, Mr Quince said the trust’s new “safety and quality” board report was an “important asset” and said “a considerable proportion of board discussion” focused on safety and quality.

However, Mr Quince went on to state: “Our shortcomings have become evident in the recent past and can be summarised as follows: a failure to obtain assurance by analysis of some key areas of data – for example incident reports and probably also complaints; poorly developed benchmarking practices; a tendency to explain away problems; given evident improvements, some degree of complacency.

“What is clear is that the age profile of our patient body will make it more challenging for West Suffolk to provide care of the appropriate quality compared with many acute hospitals.

“But, given that this is our strategic focus, it has to be at the top of our agenda.”

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