Queen’s and King George hospital chief: ‘We’re starting to see improvements’
07:00 21 July 2014
The boss of the embattled trust that runs Queen’s and King George hospitals has said it is starting to see improvements in key areas such as A&E waiting times and staffing levels.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) was last year placed in special measures after being told it was “failing local people”.
Staffing levels and waiting times were among failings pointed out by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following inspections at Queen’s in Romford and King George in Goodmayes.
Chief executive Matthew Hopkins, a former cancer nurse, was drafted in earlier this year to turn around the struggling trust.
He says it is seeing improvements after figures revealed in May showed that the trust was treating 85 per cent of A&E patients within four hours – 10pc below the government’s target.
“We’ve started to see some improvements in waiting times, we have started to recruit some more staff,” he said. “We’ve taken on medical professionals – senior doctors, consultants and senior registrars.
“The focus is on senior doctors at the moment because our recruitment of nurses has gone well.
“One of the central strands of the improvement plan is making sure we can keep staff – we need really good staff to provide really good care.”
In the wake of its damning CQC inspection, BHRUT was ordered to draw up an “improvement plan” to tackle its shortcomings, including an over-reliance on temporary staff.
The trust has recently sought to combat the problem by flying senior nurses to Portugal on a recruitment drive.
Mr Hopkins said 33 “highly skilled and committed” nurses would be joining BHRUT following the trip.
However, he questioned new national guidelines issued this week on safe staffing levels for nurses.
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence said that when each registered nurse is caring for more than eight patients there should be cause for checking they are not at risk of harm.
BHRUT recently upped its ratio of nurses to patients at night from one for every 15 to one for every 10.
Mr Hopkins said: “We cannot have a blanket need level because nurses need to make professional judgements over how unwell patients are. We take a view three times a day on the number nurses needed on wards. We make sure our levels are optimal.”
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