IN a debate following the report into Mid-Staffordshire hospitals, Jackie Doyle-Price told the House of Commons that residents of South Essex were let down by the failure to hold senior management to account at Basildon hospital when serious failings were first identified by regulators in 2009, and that the buck stops firmly with the Board of Directors for failing to grip areas of poor performance.
Jackie told the House “the Care Quality Commission voiced its lack of confidence in the management at Basildon, but there was no change and no one was held to account”
“Subsequent CQC inspections found Basildon failing in terms of care and welfare, safety of premises, safety and suitability of equipment, nutritional standards, dealing with serious incidents, record keeping and cleanliness. That is simply not good enough.”
“At Basildon, the board clearly failed in its duty to provide effective challenge and to hold the management to account. I think that we need to give a clear indication to directors of foundation trusts that in the event of poor performance, the buck stops with the board. They are accountable and they need to accept that responsibility.”
Since I started challenging Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust, I have been very heavily criticised, as if by holding the hospital to account for its performance I am attacking the NHS and its staff. The contrary is true.
If we really believe in the NHS and in providing the best possible health services for our constituents, we must challenge it when things go wrong. We should have zero tolerance of failure. Do we not owe it to the staff who do their job well to ensure that those who do not are disciplined and held to account for poor conduct?
Thankfully, Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust is now under new leadership. There are new non- executive directors who will provide a challenge. We have a new chairman, a new chief executive and a new medical director, and I am encouraged by the messages I have received from them.
However, when senior management have been excusing poor practice for so long, there is a need for profound cultural change to get things fixed. An NHS with a stronger emphasis on accountability would have allowed us to start that process in Basildon so much sooner and to save many lives.