New boss praises staff as she takes over at hospital in special measures

Caroline Shaw, new chief executive at the QEH, with chair Prof Steve Barnett Picture: Denise Bradley

Caroline Shaw, new chief executive at the QEH, with chair Prof Steve Barnett Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

A hospital boss today praised the staff she hopes will help her lead it out of special measures.

Caroline Shaw took over as chief executive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on January 14.

'It's a wonderful hospital,' she said. 'Patients and staff are truly lovely. There's a real love and passion with the people who work here wanting to make it different, make it good for the patients, you don't get that with every hospital in the UK.' The QEH was placed in special measures last year after watchdog the Care Quality Commission ruled it was inadequate.

One concern was lack of staffing on some wards. Managers pledged to step up recruitment after the report became public.

But as of Friday, almost 20pc of nursing posts remained vacant - some 162 jobs.

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Recent inquests into the deaths of two patients have revealed how wards rely on agency staff and nurses' workloads.

Mrs Shaw said it was 'completely unacceptable' and apologised to the families involved.

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She said the hospital had 'huge problems' recruiting staff, adding: 'We've got to make sure we have a really well thought-through recruitment process.

'We've got to make sure people feel valued, people feel supported and want to work here.' Mrs Shaw said the hospital would look at staff retention and the reasons why people left, along with new roles like nursing associates - a new pathway into the career where nurses could be trained on the job.

'As far as the QE is concerned, we have to realise we have not fully-mined our own labour market,' she said.

Prof Steve Barnett, chair of the trust which manages the hospital, said it was aiming to ensure long term improvements were in place to get it out of special measures.

'We are absolutely determined we will get the trust out of special measures as soon as we can,' he said. 'It will be about quality, about sustainable improvements.'

A financial recovery plan is also in place. Prof Barnett said the hospital now expected to end the year £37.6m in the red - instead of the expected £34m.

Bosses have blamed around a third of the debt on the cost of hiring agency workers.

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