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Basildon hospital proves Labour put “politics before patient care” say Thurrock MPs

Date posted: 07-10-2013

THE TWO MPs who represent Thurrock have lambasted Labour over allegations that they may have covered up failings at Basildon hospital.

E-mails obtained by Stephen Barclay MP through FOI requests appear to show that CQC were aware of serious failings at Basildon in May 2009 and advised Monitor and the Department of Health that they did not have confidence in the management of the hospital.

The emails also reveal that Ministers were furious when the information became public in November.

Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle-Price said, “These emails show that the CQC were placed under undue pressure from the Department of Health to suppress information relating to safety at Basildon and Thurrock University hospital. It also proves that the CQC told Monitor that they had no confidence in the senior management at Basildon to address the high death rates.

“This raises serious questions about the role of Monitor as a regulator and even more serious questions about the role of Labour ministers who were more concerned with their political reputations than with the safety of patients. Perhaps Labour didn’t want a bad news story at a hospital that Gordon Brown had visited and that served two marginal Parliamentary constituencies.

“But more seriously, it is what this has meant for the performance at Basildon and the standard of care experienced by patients. In the discussion I have had with CQC since I was elected it was clear that they believed that there were serious failings by management – but it was three years before they were replaced despite being patently not up to the job, and only then because I was not prepared to tolerate continued failure and made clear I had no confidence in the leadership of the Trust.

“How many lives could have been saved if action had been taken in 2009 and when the management weaknesses were identified. In the last year we have seen that the change in leadership has led to improvements in care at Basildon. Those improvements could have started three years sooner if we could have had a little more honesty from the then Secretary of State. Sadly the care and welfare of patients in Basildon and Thurrock came a poor second place to the political convenience of the Labour Party.”

MP for South Basildon and East Thurrck, Stephen Metcalfe said: “Like many others I was shocked to read reports in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail relating again to the historic failures in care at our local hospital.”

“In 2009 Inspectors from the CQC discovered worryingly high death rates and evidence of blood on curtains and catheters left on floors. The very least families of patients treated in these conditions deserved was a thorough investigation and the assurance that such failures would not happen again.”

“However, the evidence presented this morning suggests that Andy Burnham, then Health Secretary, and his team, attempted for political gain to manipulate the release of CQC reports into failures of care.”

“Bearing in mind the close relationship between my predecessor and the then Prime Minister, I hope that there was no collusion that denied patients the right to know the truth about the care they might receive.”

“Already several health experts have testified that the Department of Health under Andy Burnham was ‘a denial machine’, in the words of Professor Brian Jarman. A former Chair of the CQC, Dame Barbara Young, has described ‘huge government pressure’ for her organisation not to criticise the Government. The release of these new emails confirms that senior figures within the CQC felt pressure from the Department of Health.

“I have tried to raise this issue on the floor of the House of Commons but was ruled out of order by the Speaker, since when I have remained deeply concerned that civil servants came under undue political pressure from the front bench Labour team and those associated with them, who were nervous about the proximity of the General Election.”

“Since 2010 there have been many management changes at the hospital and we are all more open and transparent about the challenges faced and I can assure the public that we will address any future failures in a more honest way.”

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