View from Westminster 27th January 2017

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my concerns surrounding the management of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust. Since then I have met with the new chair of the acute trust, Caragh Merrick and I have been very impressed with her determination to repair the problems that have become imbedded in the trust after the years of poor management in the Worcestershire Trust. These problems have been embedded since the start of the review of services around 5 years ago – something that spawned the creation of the Kidderminster Hospital Alliance which became an incredibly useful forum for all political parties to work together to drive forward better outcomes.

Ms Merrick is committed to working with NHS Improvement – the organisation that has been working with the trust to address the management problems for a few months – and ensure that we see better management practices. With a new chief executive, due to start soon, we will now have a much sounder structure that will be better able to make the investments into the local hospitals that the government has already promised, of which more details will be provided in due course. This money is to be spent on blue light services that are under pressure.

However, this is a key point. I certainly have no argument with people who say that there needs to be more money spent on the NHS in Worcestershire. But I do have a huge problem giving taxpayer’s money to the legacy of a management team that have manifestly proved themselves to be failing badly. It would be crazy to fire money at a trust that have proved they are, to date, not capable of spending that money wisely. And this is not just my opinion. The Worcestershire Medical Committee have written to Jeremy Hunt making a more profound comment about poor management practices going back longer. The NHS sees it as vital to give the management support, hence the involvement of NHS Improvement. The reality is that our acute trust is very high indeed on the lists of trusts that give grave concern to the Department of Health.

With the new team fitting into place, I am committed to working with them to help them achieve the outcomes we all expect and pay for, through or taxes, in Worcestershire. When the investment comes, we can be sure it will be spent properly.