East Sussex Healthcare Trust board issues formal apology

Eastbourne DGH (District General Hospital).May 17th 2011 ENGSNL00120110517133225

Eastbourne DGH (District General Hospital).May 17th 2011 ENGSNL00120110517133225

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The board of a troubled hospital trust has met for the first time since its chairman resigned.

Stuart Welling, former chairman at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust stepped down on Tuesday – the day before members of the board were set to discuss a Care Quality Commission report which has seen the trust enter special measures.

The trust, which runs Conquest Hospital in Hastings, and the Eastbourne DGH, was rated as ‘inadequate’ overall for the second time in a year, despite being rated ‘good’ for caring.

Susan Bernhauser chaired the general meeting, held at The Hastings Centre today (September 30(, in place of Stuart Welling.

She said she was ‘very disappointed’ about the shortfalls identified in the report and formally apologised to East Sussex residents on behalf of the board.

Speaking at the meeting, Richard Sunley, acting chief executive of the trust said: “We do acknowledge that we have not delivered the standards the people in East Sussex rightly expect from us. We are tremendously proud of our staff that the caring measure is still identified as good. We are determined to make a new start. Our ambition is to deliver excellent healthcare for all our residents.”

Liz Walke, chairman of the Save the DGH campaign group, thanked the board for apologising

She said: “I did request last time that there was an apology and I’m pleased that it has now been done. As a campaign group we want to hold our hands out to you and work with you.

“We are not an organisation who bash people all the time – we do want to the best for ESHT We feel we are in a good position to help with public and staff engagement.”

Mrs Walke also called for a reconfiguration of services at the two hospitals after specialist maternity services were moved away from Easbourne.

Hover Susan Bernhauser said a reconfiguration was ‘not up for debate’ but added the trust will try to make people’s lives ‘far less challenging’.

The trust discussed the steps it is taking to improve the hospitals, including building two new radiotherapy machines at the Eastbourne site, improving the Pevensey Unit to ‘improve the patient experience for people with cancer’, a new endoscopy unit in Eastbourne and an ophthalmology day unit in Bexhill.

Vanessa Harris, director of finance was praised by the board and Amanda Philpott , chief officer of Hastings and Rother CCG and Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG commended her work.

Ms Harris said the trust is aiming to cut costs by addressing the use of agency staff and offering better rates of pay to bank staff.

She added: “Staff find using agency staff in the wards provides lack of consistency in some areas.”

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, attended the meeting, called for the trust to take ‘urgent action’.

Maria said: “My constituents want guarantees that their health care is going to be brought up to the high standards that are expected of our NHS,” she said.

“If the service is to remain the envy of the world, then it is vital that the management work hard to ensure standards are high and maintained.

“This action is urgent so that confidence can return to the service locally and we can move on from discussions about process and procedure to doing what is best for patients. I challenged officials on what steps are being taken and when improvements will be taking place.”

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