Concerned Thurrock Councillors are demanding representatives of Basildon Hospital, the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and health regulators come before them early in the New Year.
The move follows last weekend’s news that Basildon Hospital’s hygiene standards had failed an unannounced inspection and that it had been ordered to appoint external advisors, agree new performance standards and strengthen clinical capacity.
Members of the council’s Health and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Committee quizzed two top executives from NHS South West Essex (the PCT) about the hospital at their meeting on Tuesday (1 December).
Barbara Stuttle CBE, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Nurse, and Dr Katherine Gronqvist, the Director of Public Health, were at the meeting and spoke about the situation at Basildon University Hospital and described the action plan for improvement that has already been agreed with the hospital, the PCT, the strategic health authority and the Care Quality Commission.
They explained that the PCT had been supporting the hospital trust for some time, providing extra money so more nurses, doctors and consultants could be employed, a move provoked by the news that the hospital’s mortality ratio was high.
Ms Stuttle also promised committee members that the PCT would provide the council with weekly updates on what was being done.
However members of the committee were not satisfied, describing the situation as “appalling” and “an absolute disgrace”, while committee chair, Cllr Wendy Herd, said: “People are scared. They are not going to want to go to Basildon Hospital.”
While other members said they had recent good experiences of the hospital, the committee unanimously agreed to the recommendations.
Cllr Herd said: “The meeting, on Tuesday, 5 January, will be at the Civic Offices in Grays and is open to the public. I urge those concerned to come along.
“We will be writing to the hospital trust, the PCT and the regulators — the Care Quality Commission and Monitor — asking them to provide reports explaining their roles in what has happened, what led up to the present situation and what they are doing about it.
“The committee is also telling all four bodies they should send representatives to our January meeting to discuss where we are now and the way forward supporting the hospital.
“While the local authority has no control over the hospital trust I believe it is the duty of Health and Well-being scrutiny to ensure we ask probing questions so we can reassure our residents that clear actions and accountabilities will move this forward.
“Concerns have been raised over specific issues and I look forward to the meeting in January where the committee will have an opportunity to ask questions of health professionals involved on behalf of our residents.
“We as councillors take that responsibility very seriously. Local people deserve answers, we want answers and this seems to be the best way to get answers.”