Southend Hospital Ordered To Improve Services

25 June 2014, 05:54 | Updated: 25 June 2014, 09:08

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The Health regulator is taking further action against Southend hospital after describing it as "one of the worst performing Accident and Emergency departments in the country''.

Monitor has ordered Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to take a series of urgent steps after failing to make improvements in services for its patients.

Failing to see most A&E patients within four hours, which is the national target, and ensuring that most have to wait less than 18 weeks for an operation are some of the complaints lodged against the trust.

Monitor's regional director Adam Cayley warned: "This trust has had one of the worst performing A&E departments in the country. It has also failed to see other patients who have been referred for treatment quickly enough.

"It is unacceptable that patients have to wait. Monitor will not hesitate to step in and make changes to the leadership if the trust does not improve its services for its patients.''

Monitor has called on the trust to put a plan in place to improve A&E services, develop a plan to improve the speed with which non-emergency patients receive treatment and to boost its clinical and management teams.

It argues that keeping patients waiting too long for both emergency treatment and routine operations is symptom of wider problems with the way the trust is led.

They also said they were concerned about the stability of its executive team, which has had a very high turnover of members in the last two years.

The trust has been working closely with Monitor after it was first found in breach of its licence in December 2012.

Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust chairman Alan Tobias, who insists the trust has started to turn around its emergency care performance, said: "We believe we are now in a much stronger position to tackle these issues and will be working hard to achieve all the undertakings and requirements we have set out with our regulator.

"I am under no illusion and want to assure our local community we must and will get this right because it is in the best interests of our patients, which is what drives the board and the trust.''

"Whilst our recent CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection had no concern around the quality of care we provide our patients, we recognise that not meeting key performance targets means some of our patients are waiting longer that we would like and we have shown we are dedicated to changing that.

"After inconsistent achievement of the A&E target, there is now some good news on our performance in this area. We are reducing waiting and delays, seeing patients in more appropriate settings, and enabling people to go home more promptly as soon as they are fit enough to leave hospital. We want to maintain this progress and will work with Monitor to assure them of this.

"On board governance we recognised that the number of interim appointments we had in key executive positions plus a retirement did not promote board stability. However since the start of the year we have made permanent appointments to the roles of chief operating officer, director of finance and are currently recruiting a director of estates, while two new independent non-executive directors joined us in the summer.''