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We'll bring the compassion back into care, pledge hospital bosses

While expected to remain in special measures, improvements are being made at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital  Picture: Ian Burt

While expected to remain in special measures, improvements are being made at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Picture: Ian Burt

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A Norfolk hospital expects to stay in special measures for another two years.

Chief executive Caroline Shaw, who is pledging to put the compassion back into care  Picture: QEHChief executive Caroline Shaw, who is pledging to put the compassion back into care Picture: QEH

But its chief executive and chairman pledge more compassionate care as they tackle key areas for improvement.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in September. The health watchdog said it was unsafe and poorly-led.

Chief executive Caroline Shaw, who took over in January, said a follow up inspection was carried out weeks after she arrived.

Mrs Shaw said while she expected the inspectors to rule the hospital should remain in special measures, she also expected it to note "the first green shoots of improvement".

She added A&E waiting targets and cancer treatment deadlines were now being met, while the hospital ended it financial year with a deficit of just under £36m, instead of the projected £37m.

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Mrs Shaw said she expected the hospital would take two years to improve its way out of special measures.

Prof Steve Barnett, who was appointed interim chair of the hospital in November, said: "We've spent time on the board identifying key priorities we need to focus on to improve rapidly. Externally, the regulators have said this is the direction of travel they want to see."

The CQC said there was evidence low staffing levels were impacting on patient safety, while a high proportion of agency nurses were being used to plug gaps.

Prof Barnett said while 80 nurses from the Philippines would soon be joining the QEH, the hospital was also doing more to recruit and train staff locally.

"We shouldn't have to keep going abroad to recruit staff to work here," he said. "We should be making the most of what's on our own doorstep."

The standard of end of life care was rated as requiring improvement by the CQC. Prof Barnett said it was now one of the hospital's top priorities, with more notice being taken of dying patients' wishes.

Mrs Shaw said: "We've got to bring the compassion back into caring." She added one elderly patient was enjoying a cup of tea in the sunshine and a visit from her dog each day.

A prayer room is being opened for muslim staff at the hospital, while a memory tree is being built near the MacMillan cancer centre for families to remember their loved ones.

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