Treatment at an NHS hospital under ‘special measures’

C8FJ0Y.jpg (5360×3559)King’s College patients were horrified to read that ‘their’ hospital had been placed under “special measures, following serious concerns about the trust’s growing deficit”. With an end-year deficit of over £90 million.

As a patient, I often wondered how King’s managed to provide superb service – hardly any waiting in Outpatients – all tests on-site and on the same day. Now I know – by massively over-spending their budget.

Last week I was back.  After 11 months living in the Post code lottery region of Oxfordshire, I still hadn’t managed an appointment for one of my ‘co-morbidities’.  But wonder of wonders, the NHS would allow me to return to my excellent speciallist at King’s, and even provide transport .

The Chairman resigned

Last year, when problems re budgetting surfaced, their popular Chairman Lord Kerslake resigned. He said  “The right thing for me to do therefore is to step down and to do so publicly.  Reaction of the powers that be is often to shoot the messenger. So it is worth quoting here from the draft report of the independent Care Quality Commission following its recent inspection: “The chair was held in very high regard by staff at all levels. It was apparent the chair had gained the respect of staff with people reporting their approval at how the chair promoted the highest level of probity and governance and of how he demonstrated the organisation’s values and behaviours. Under his leadership the shape of the board was said to have changed to one where the right skills and vision was present at board level.”

His two and a half years at King’s had been in equal parts inspiring and frustrating. “There are undoubtedly things that I and the trust could have done better – there always are – but fundamentally our problems lie in the way that the NHS is funded and organised. We desperately need a fundamental rethink. Until then we are simply “kicking the can down the road”.

On my visit I noticed…..

Only one Receptionist at the entrance, instead of two.  But hey – it just meant we had to wait a few seconds more..  Not a  problem.  The Assessment Nurse didn’t keep me waiting, and was just as smiling and efficient as usual.  Seeing I had difficulty walking, she told me to wait in her area and she would come and tell me when the Consutant was ready.  And she did!

The Consultant was surprised to see me.  Asking why I hadnt seen her colleague in Oxford.  So I explained – and she rolled her eyes.  We had a very useful and helpful consultation, and I left feeling reassured as I always do when King’s staff look after me.  Then I had to go for a blood test.  This is always a problem because my veins don’t co-operate.  But the efficient nurse who discussed Sierra Leone with me did this brilliantly – only a tiny pin-prick to show for this next day.  Most nurses manage to give me a huge bruise.

What was visible

You could see the hospital was spotless, but the lino is looking worn, the entrance doors weren’t working properly, and there were nicks and scuff marks on the paintwork.  But the hospital is still providing welcoming and caring care, which others should copy.

One wishes King’s the best, and hopefully the NHS will ensure that it is still around providing the best example of how the service can work for many years to come,



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