Clear vision of future of Bay hospital services is needed

The contents of the draft Care Quality Commission report leaked to The Westmorland Gazette are another blow for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

It has been through turbulent times in recent years and now inspectors who graded on five areas found just two were ‘good’, while one ‘requires improvement’ and two more were ‘inadequate’.

Overall, it was given an ‘inadequate’ rating - the lowest rating a trust can achieve from the CQC.

Many issues were identified - perhaps the most serious is that staffing difficulties have put patients at risk of ‘avoidable harm’.

The good news is since the February inspection the trust says it has recruited 130 new nurses, developed different working patterns for staff, and executives are now spending more time on the frontline.

The final report is still to be published but Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron believes the trust could be recommended to be put into special measures.

Such a move could lead to a whole new board being put into place.

But it is arguable there has been enough disruption at the trust already and a better and more positive approach might be to ‘buddy up’ the UHMBT with a trust that is doing well, which can offer support and, presumably, share good practice.

The draft CQC report criticises the trust for not having a ‘clear vision’ for staff to align or aspire to and says there is a ‘heavy reliance’ on the current Bay-wide Better Care Together healthcare review.

Staff – and local residents – need to know where the trust is heading and where jobs and services are going to be based in future and that is why it is imperative the Better Care Together proposals are published as soon as possible.

And those proposals must, of course, take full account of the clear message from more than 3,200 Westmorland Gazette readers who supported our ‘Hands off our Hospital’ campaign to safeguard services at Westmorland General Hospital.

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