Today’s release of the Keogh Report on Tameside Hospital (TGH) is hard-hitting and makes for more difficult reading.
However, much of the content was already familiar to us due to the leaked Clinical Commissioning Group report two weeks ago.
In addition, the failings of the hospital have been a live issue in Tameside for many years now, and indeed achieving change at TGH was one of the pledges I gave at the 2010 election.
It has been a major campaign from all the Tameside MPs for over a decade.
The report clearly identifies major problems with the governance and leadership of the Hospital Trust, and it is welcome that the Chief Executive and Medical Director have already departed.
Clearly, I feel that the decision I and the other Tameside MPs took to submit evidence to Keogh making clear our view that new leadership was required has been justified.
From the beginning I have welcomed the Keogh process which I believe has been rigorous, transparent, and effective. It has undoubtedly helped us achieve the change we required.
Clearly, to date no other inspection has managed to deliver the insight we required, and one of the changes that comes out of the Report must be a better inspection regime across the board. I hope Keogh will address this directly.
I want to make absolutely clear however that many people have had extremely positive experiences of care at Tameside Hospital, and the overwhelmingly majority of staff at Tameside are dedicated and hard-working.
I do not believe, for instance, that the situation at Tameside aligns with what we saw in Mid-Staffordshire.
Just three months ago, for example, I was in Tameside Hospital myself for the birth of my son.
I am aware, from press reports, that Conservative MPs have been briefed to use Sir Bruce Keogh’s report as an opportunity to attack both the NHS and the work of the last Government.
My message to them is that this would be both grossly inaccurate and unhelpful.
As an MP who has campaigned hard for improvements in their local hospital, I do not want to see this process exploited for the benefit of the Government.
Sir Bruce Keogh, along with local MPs such as myself, Andrew Gwynne and David Heyes, have successfully used this process to deliver the scrutiny and changes we need.
The job of the Government is now to use its stewardship of the Department of Health to ensure the improvements highlighted are delivered.
At the beginning of the week, I had hoped this Report would be a turning point for TGH. I still believe it can be, but I would characterise it as being only the end of the beginning.
The Report makes clear serious problems with the organisational culture at TGH, and organisational culture cannot be changed overnight. However, I do believe we now have the opportunity to move forward in a way which will ultimately deliver us the local NHS hospital Tameside needs and deserves. Opportunity to get hospital we deserve.
On Tuesday of this week NHS England’s Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, formally announced the findings of his review into hospital mortality rates.
The review, which was conducted at the request of the Prime Minister, focused on 14 troubled Hospital Trusts, including Tameside, and was tasked with identifying the causes for low standards within these hospitals.
The findings on Tameside were consistent with the leaked report of the local Clinical Commissioning Group to the Guardian earlier in the month.
Of course, we have all known of the problems at Tameside for a number of years. This is why it has been such a focus for me since becoming an MP.
In response to the report the hospital has been placed under what the Government is referring to “special measures”, and will now be receiving expert assistance from NHS professionals from outside the area, who will be helping to make the improvements that Keogh has identified as necessary.
Karen James, who is the hospital’s new interim Chief Executive, told the Manchester Evening News this week that she has already begun to implement some of these changes which I was glad to hear.
I am looking forward to meeting with her soon to discuss this and hear more about how she intends to turn things around.
Christine Green’s resignation, her swift replacement, and now the release of this report, has certainly generated a feeling of momentum, and I hope that is something we are able to maintain as we get stuck into the work ahead.
Our hospital has been a key concern of mine since being elected in 2010, and I have worked with fellow Tameside MP’s, Andrew Gwynne and David Heyes MP, throughout that time to demand improvement at the hospital.
The developments over the last few weeks have been a step in the right direction and I hope that this is the point at which Tameside can start making significant progress.
However, there is no doubt that this has also been a difficult period. Our local hospital has featured very prominently in the national media for all the wrong reasons, and this has undoubtedly had some effect on the staff who work there.
We should not forget that many people have had extremely positive experiences of care at Tameside Hospital and the overwhelmingly majority of staff at Tameside are dedicated and hard-working.
They deserve improvements as much as the public do. There is still a long way to go, but I do believe we now have an opportunity to make Tameside into the hospital that local people deserve.