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Improvement director appointed to see BHRUT through ‘special measures’

15:50 21 February 2014

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Queen's Hospital, Romford

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An improvement director has been installed to oversee a hospital trust’s progress through “special measures”.

King George HospitalKing George Hospital

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George Hospital and Queen’s Hospital, is finalising plans to bring services up to national standards.

It has been in special measures since December, when the Care Quality Commission issued a damning report exposing unsafe A&Es, understaffing, long waiting times and poor planning.

Inspectors found recent changes were not doing enough to tackle problems putting patients at risk and ordered BHRUT to follow urgent instructions to improve.

Steve Russell was appointed by the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) to oversee the process.

A TDA spokesman said: “He will undertake the role of an independent “critical friend” to both support the trust and hold it to account to ensure it achieves its improvement aims.”

He has worked in the NHS for 16 years, first in Northumbria and from 2011, in South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

It was dissolved in October after running up £150million debts.

The scale of BHRUT’s own budget problems was revealed by trust board papers earlier this month.

Interim finance director Rob Cooper expected the deficit at the end of December to reach between £27million and £33m.

He said it was partly due to the huge costs of bank and agency staff.

A lack of permanent and senior medical workers in A&E at King George and Queen’s has been one of the greatest criticisms of the trust.

Last year, they resorted to hiring abroad to fill posts and 18 doctors have so far been recruited from India.

The A&E at King George Hospital, which has historically performed much better than Queen’s, is due to be shut in 2015 as part of a huge reconfiguration of services.

Campaigners and politicians continue to battle against the closure but the government has not signalled a change in its support for the move.

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