Last week, I brought Hospitals Minster Philip Dunne MP to visit Kidderminster Hospital. I’m in and out of Kidderminster Hospital on a fairly frequent basis, visiting various departments for one reason or another, but it has been a long time since I brought a minister to officially visit our local hospital.
The reason that I brought him to visit is to address our concerns over the Care Quality Commission report, suggesting that Kidderminster has slipped back. Of course, the CQC says it has, but only in certain areas. In other areas, it is getting better. Philip Dunne has a dual interest in Kidderminster: not only is he hospitals minister, but he is also the MP for Ludlow and so many of his own constituents use our hospital.
Our visit included looking around the outstanding treatment centre, meeting with the new chief executive, a meeting with staff, as well as meeting with the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Brian McGinity. All of Worcestershire’s MPs have regular contact with the new CEO, a former nurse who seems to be doing a great job since taking on a legacy of poor management in April. I am seeing her again next week to discuss the complaints process, both in terms of the complaints and the fact that, sometimes, the complaints aren’t dealt with.
It was our meeting with the staff that was, perhaps, the most interesting. There are many important issues that they raised, including pay caps and general issues surrounding the NHS – all of which were absolutely valid concerns. But there was one issue that a government cannot resolve easily: the endless carping in the media that the NHS is about to collapse and that it provides a terrible service. I’ve raised my concerns about senior management on these pages before, but the majority of people working at the NHS are dedicated, passionate people who do their absolute best for their service users. What we hear about a lot are the failures and the problems; what we rarely hear about are the fantastic successes that happen every single day. Life expectancy is going up because the NHS are doing a terrific job. Amazing things are done by every level of staff, all the time. Of course a government should be striving to keep improving the NHS, but we should never forget those people who work hard to look after us all when care is needed.