Pretty dismal news for the NHS in the West Midlands, as standards in local hospitals ‘deteriorate dramatically’ according to the front page of today’s Birmingham Post.
The paper reveals that annual performance ratings by the national watchdog the Care Quality Commission appear to show that whilst financial management is improving, the standard of actual care has plummeted at 18 of the 43 trusts.
Four trusts – namely Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust (lampooned in the press this year for the number of needless patient deaths in under their care), Dudley Group of Hospitals (who recently granted their execs a bumper pay rise after acquiring Foundation status), Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership Trust and Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust for Mental Health – were all classed as ‘weak’ for quality of care.
The article quotes Julie bailey, founder of a campaign group ‘Cure the NHS’ who were founded following the Mid Staffordshire debacle, who lays the blame at the door of health chiefs:
“Putting finances over patient care was what happened at Stafford Hospital and instead of being a warning shot, it is still happening across the country.
I get calls and letters from people nationwide seeing a huge deterioration in care but more focus on finances”.
It’s true. Dudley for one was rated ‘excellent’ on money matters, but whilst it’s impressive that many of these trusts have their houses in order when it comes to public funds, isn’t it slightly missing the point if what results is substandard care? At the end of the day, isn’t this what our tax money is supposed to provide? It’s seems oxymoronic to say that the cash is being dealt with properly if it’s not serving it’s very purpose and yet at the same time, going to fund some pretty impressive salaries for directors and executive management?
Just because every penny is accounted for, certainly doesn’t seem to mean that it’s been spent efficiently, and after many years of increased investment it’s quite shocking to read a report that says the hospitals we rely upon are worsening.
West Midlands Ambulance Service was another casualty, sliding from ‘excellent’ to ‘fair’ in just six months. The vital services we pay for and depend are becoming more likely to let us down.
If, as shadow health secretary Andrew Langsley says, these Trusts have been prioritising cutting budgets over the provision of patient care, then it’s pretty clear the wrong choices are being made, and our highly paid NHS chiefs are failing to sweep away the many layers of bureaucracy that strangle the cash flow to the frontline with truly worrying consequences.