Tom Blenkinsop MP: “The inspection of James Cook Hospital underlines the need for proper resourcing of NHS acute service on Teesside”

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, today (9th June 2015) commented on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Inspection report on Middlesbrough’s James Cook Hospital.

Tom said:
“Overall the CQC report was highly positive, focusing on the commitment of management and staff – especially nursing and care staff at the sharp end of the hospital service – and recognising that the hospital is operating in an area where there are acute challenges of ill health, health inequality and pockets of poverty.

“It recognised the efforts put in by hospital staff and managers to tackle a background of budgetry constraint and to produce an environment where patients were put first by everyone concerned with their treatment and care. For all this, the hospital must be congratulated.

“However, there were two areas of concern, areas of concern that must be looked at by both hospital managers and by Government ministers themselves.

“The first is the sheer strain in the A & E Unit.  The report says “there were nursing staff shortages across wards and departments, particularly at the James Cook University Hospital… in urgent and emergency care and in children’s services.

“The responsibility for this lies not so much with the hospital, but with the government itself who, over the past few years, have been steadily closing walk in centres and GP and nursing practices across the South Tees area, including, in my constituency, the minor A&E unit at East Cleveland hospital and surgeries in Skelton and Park End. As I repeatedly said at the time, this would only lead to more A&E pressure at James Cook Hospital. This has now turned out to be the case.

“The second issue is one the Trust itself needs to look at again.  The report said: “Not all records were consistently completed across the acute and the community services, including the updating of care records such as assessments, fluid balance charts, risk assessments and decisions over whether to attempt to resuscitate a patient. There were also concerns over the completion of safeguarding records, particularly in the see and treat area of the A & E unit”

“Only a few weeks ago, the main NHS Union, UNISON, expressed concern over the outsourcing of the processing of patient records to a company in the Philippines.  To go ahead with such a proposal, at a time when it looks as if the original processing and writing up of the notes themselves may not be wholly secure, means to me that this proposal must be put on hold, whilst the review of record taking and processing takes place.

“But above all, the government have to be reminded of the sheer degree of pressure put on caring services like those at James Cook Hospital under their austerity regime. This is not set to improve. Only last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that £200 million more would have to be cut from the Department of Health this year alone. That, taken with the cuts to the social care budget that supports discharged patients, is the real reason why hospitals are short of nurses and medics, and why the entire NHS is in crisis. It is a crisis of the government’s own making and one they have a moral duty to reverse.”

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