When I was first elected thirteen and a half years ago, when Labour was in power, the future of our local hospitals was a huge issue.
There was a plan to downgrade A&E and other services, provoking massive local campaigns and protest marches.
Eventually the NHS agreed a better solution: to amalgamate the management of St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals, creating a single trust.
From the evidence of my constituency casework I had also become increasingly concerned about standards of care in the hospitals, but with the new regime came a remarkable turnaround in performance.
In 2016 Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was awarded an outstanding rating by the Care Quality Commission, becoming only the third acute trust in the country to be rated so highly.
The leadership team of the trust was then asked to go into Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals Trust to deal with the problems there. The trust had been rated as inadequate and placed into special measures for both finance and quality of care.
|Also in the news - the bedding and belongings of a person who was sleeping rough in Chichester have been destroyed by a fire police believe was started deliberately; a Worthing man has said he has been left ‘devastated’ and ‘dumbfounded’ after the body of his cat was handed in by a mysterious stranger; and works are continuing to create a major new country park in the Horsham district|
This week the Care Quality Commission rated the trust as good overall and outstanding for caring.
Both the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath were also rated as good overall.
The inspectors recognised the ‘huge improvements’ in the trust, while the NHS confirmed that it is no longer in any form of special measures.
The trust itself rightly praised its staff for their ‘incredibly hard work’ to achieve the improvements. But credit is also due to the chief executive, Marianne Griffiths, and her leadership team who have done so much to turn around performance, first at Worthing and St Richard’s and now at Brighton and the Princess Royal.
Marianne – who first trained as a nurse – was made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours, a high award and fitting recognition of her work.
This week the government announced its NHS Long Term Plan which sets out how a massive new investment of £20.5billion a year in real terms over the next five years aims to transform patient care.
There will be a new focus on prevention, more clinicians, better mental health services, new technology and better cancer survival rates.
These new resources and ambitious plans are incredibly welcome. But let’s remember that success will still depend on great NHS staff and leaders.
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