Anger at “disrespectful” leak over King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been put into special measures. Picture: IAN BURT.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been put into special measures. Picture: IAN BURT. - Credit: IAN BURT

MPs who leaked news that a hospital was about to be put into 'special measures' before it was officially announced by regulators have been accused of being disrespectful to medical staff and patients.

Managers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn and the healthcare regulator Monitor were caught by surprise when the EDP exclusively revealed that officials would be brought in to oversee improvements, with the chairman of the hospital's trust saying she would resign.

A spokesman for the QEH said they were unable to comment, as there was not a report in the public domain, whereas a spokesman for Monitor said it did not comment directly on leaks and was still going through its processes.

However Darren Barber, chairman of the joint staff committee at the QEH, said: 'I think it was disrespectful to be talking about a situation when they probably don't understand the whole truth. For an MP who represents local people, I don't think it supports the needs of their constituents or their families.'

Both North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham and South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss have both made clear that they support hard-working members of staff at the hospital.

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Mr Bellingham said: 'I have no doubt that the majority of staff at the QEH are highly-professional, highly-dedicated, highly-compassionate and they will make the recovery plan work.'

Ms Truss said she hoped the announcement 'will give the hard working staff the much needed support to drive through the changes so that the QEH can be a first class hospital'.

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She added: 'The QEH needs to provide the best possible health care for local residents.

'I visited the hospital two weeks ago and spoke of my concerns about accountability and operational practices with the leadership team.

'Along with my colleague Henry Bellingham, I am meeting the health minister next month to address these issues further.'

However Mr Barber said he had made an offer to the area's MPs to meet him so they could work together to resolve the QEH's problems.

The hospital was heavily criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in August, after inspectors found that action was needed in nine areas which included obtaining people's consent to care and respecting patients' privacy, dignity and independence.

A day later Monitor – which oversees foundation trusts – said it was using its formal powers of intervention after the QEH missed its accident and emergency (A&E) waiting time target for three consecutive quarters.

Mr Barber said: 'As far as I'm concerned, professional people don't leak stories to the papers.

'I don't appreciate them talking about my staff when they can't actually be bothered to talk to the joint staff committee chairman, see what hard-working people there are and what they are doing for the future.'

Steve Barclay, MP for North-East Cambridgeshire – whose son was born at the hospital nine months ago – said: 'It is clearly deeply concerning that the QEH has gone into special measures.

'However, today's decision on the overall care rating of the hospital does not mean that all services provided by the hospital are below the required standard. For example my own son was born at the hospital just nine months ago and received excellent care from the dedicated staff there.

'It is right, however, that current challenges are confronted and I therefore support the secretary of state's decision to review standards at the hospital and I am working closely with him to ensure necessary steps are taken to rectify or remedy the issues identified.'

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