‘70 key tests must be passed before Romford Queen’s Hospital accepts more patients’ - Andrew Lansley

Queen’s Hospital will not accept an increase in patients after services at a nearby hospital are withdrawn until dozens of tests have been passed, health secretary Andrew Lansley said this week.

He said a “vision” for the future of King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, must be mapped out before its accident and emergency department (A&E) and labour ward close.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs both hospitals, will have to satisfy health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that it has passed more than 70 key tests.

Mr Lansley, who in October gave the green light to the closure of services at King George, told the Recorder: “There must be a vision from the trust for the future of King George Hospital and what services will be available there.

“We have been absolutely clear that, as we support the trust, they take ownership of ensuring high-quality care.”

The CQC carried out a series of inspections at the hospital in September and its findings, released last week, showed failings in the A&E and maternity wards.

‘Serious failure’

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And a coroner’s court found on Thursday that mother Violet Stephens, 35, died after giving birth at the hospital in April last year due to a “serious failure” by doctors.

Mr Lansley said he had seen signs of improvement during his visit, particularly in midwifery.

He said: “I looked very carefully at what they [the CQC] said and there’s been considerable progress in particular in recruitment of midwifes. Getting doctors and nurses who will provide leadership is essential.

“At the moment, we have specialist midwifes in place and that should give mothers confidence if they have their babies here.”

The trust is also in line for a share of a �1.5billion government bailout fund if it can show it has passed four key tests, including delivering clinically viable, high-quality services and low waiting times.

Mr Lansley said: “It has been in deficit for seven years and it can’t continue like this, tens of millions of pounds go into that deficit.

“I’ve seen new leadership in maternity and A&E – senior doctors and nurses demonstrated they will take ownership of services and living within their means.”