MP shocked by RLI findings

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DAVID MORRIS MP speaks out on the health issues affecting the district in his regular Visitor column David’s Diary.

I WOULD like to dedicate this week’s David’s Diary to an issue that affects all of us in Morecambe & Lunesdale and one that I have been working on a lot behind the scenes over the past few months.

You will be aware that two Government regulators have been actively involved in the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. The regulators are CQC (Care Quality Commission) and Monitor.

The CQC made an unannounced visit to the A&E Department at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) in December 2011. During their visit they found that a nurse who was off ill had not been replaced leaving the department a nurse down and patients were waiting in the corridor.

Over a year ago, I noticed that there were a large number of ambulances often outside RLI.

When an ambulance is outside the hospital with the ambulance staff inside the hospital this is known as stacking. Essentially, when a patient is brought to hospital the ambulance staff must wait with the patient until hospital medical staff are able to take over care. This was an indication, to me that there were issues in the A&E department at RLI.

At that time I met with the Chief Executive of the trust who assured me that this issue was being addressed and that additional nursing staff had been made available to free up ambulance staff for other patients in the area. The CQC findings came as a shock to me that patients were waiting in corridors.

Before addressing these issues and explaining what I have done, I would like to firstly remind patients that they should continue to use local NHS services. Secondly, I would like to say that our local doctors, nurses and other medical staff do an amazing job, you only have to ask the patients (as I have on many occasions) to know that. While I appreciate all of these reports place a stress on staff I do not want to see staff morale suffer as it inevitably will under the microscope of scrutiny.

Towards the end of last year, I arranged a meeting with Minister for Health Simon Burns which was attended by other MPs whose constituency the trust serves. I also received assurances from Secretary of State Andrew Lansley in the House of Commons that he would take note of the reports. He actually said on November 22 2011 “I will look at the report very carefully when it is presented.”

This reference was to the reports released last week by Monitor.

There were three reports released last week, that are available for download on the Monitor website. I am pleased to report that Monitor have appointed Sir David Henshaw as interim chair to drive the recovery of the trust. Monitor have also instructed the Trust to appoint a Turnaround Director, to be agreed with Monitor, to develop and deliver an effective recovery plan, instructed the Trust to create a Programme Management Office to support the Turnaround Director in delivering the recovery plan and instructed the trust to appoint an interim Chief Operating Officer.

What does all this mean?

It means that a highly experienced chair in Sir David will look at the trust, listen to staff and trouble shoot, hopefully improving patient care and staff morale.

On Wednesday I had a private meeting with Secretary of State Andrew Lansley who assured me he would keep a close eye on developments and recently I met with the Chief Executive of the Trust who assured me that things will improve.

I would like to remind patients and staff alike that my door is always open to discuss NHS issues. I will always feed your suggestions (in confidence) back to those who have the ability to change things. Please book an appointment at my next constituency surgery which is on Friday, February 24 at Morecambe Library.

As ever you can follow me on twitter @mpdavidmorris. You can write to me David Morris MP, Office 204, Riverway House, Morecambe Rd, Lancaster, LA12RX e-mail or visit my website