East and North Herts NHS Trust wins national recognition

July 3, 2015

I was very pleased to read that, at the annual Healthcare People Management Association’s awards – held on 18th June – the Trust won the best HR team award and were announced as the overall winners. The Human Resources Team came top in the best HR team category and accepted the award at a London ceremony.

The HR Team is one of many behind-the-scenes departments whose efforts support clinical staff in providing excellent patient care and, as such, is a vital part of the Trust. I am delighted that their hard work is being recognised.


A look at the NHS

November 12, 2014

You cannot have a strong NHS without a strong economy, and you cannot have a strong economy without a strong NHS.

Ed Miliband says that he is the man to save the NHS, but there is simply no evidence in favour of this. What the evidence does show is that the Conservatives in Government have rescued the economy, protected NHS funding, and improved patient care.

The Government realises the central role that the Service plays in our national life, and so made a promise to protect its budget. The Coalition examined the NHS carefully and was able to make savings, but reinvested all those savings back into the NHS, improving the quality of care that patients receive. This has been very successful. Just last year, for example, NHS spending went up by £2.7 billion in real terms, and there has been a 4.4% real terms increase in funding during this Parliament. The most important thing to realise is this: the promise that Labour is making about the NHS going into the next election is less than what the Government has actually delivered during its time in office. This is a remarkable achievement, and one of which I am very proud.

Also, the Government has put local doctors in charge of commissioning, and, because of this, the use of the private sector in the service has slowed significantly. The Shadow Health Secretary talks a lot about integrating health and social care systems, but, in 13 years in power, Labour did nothing about it. The Government has. In April, the Better Care Fund starts, and will see local authority areas coordinate care with the NHS for the first time ever. Labour’s NHS mismanagement and target-based culture allowed the disasters at Mid Staffs to take place. Labour haven’t apologised, but we Conservatives are putting things right.

At the next election, we will promise again to protect and increase the NHS budget, but we are also promising to improve GP access for millions by introducing seven-days-a-week appointments nationwide by 2020; to provide a named GP for everyone, reserving Labour’s terrible decision to scrap family doctors; and to make the UK the best country in the world for the elderly.

Labour’s position is very different:

  • Their hollow funding pledge began to unravel immediately, with the Shadow Chancellor admitting that not a penny of their £2.5 billion promise would materialise in their first year, leading the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies to describe their mansion tax proposals as ‘guesswork’.
  • Their plans to re-introduce GP access targets based on clinical grounds has been criticised by the Royal College of GPs as ‘ill thought-out’. It will stand in the way of patients getting the appointments they need.
  • In Wales, where Labour do control the NHS through the Welsh Assembly, the budget has been cut by 8%, A&E targets have not been met in any year since 2008, and the Royal College of Surgeons say that patients are dying on waiting-lists.

Labour seriously damaged the economy and the NHS. We Conservatives are rescuing both.


Website launched to gather evidence from NHS workers: www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk

August 8, 2014

This week I was pleased to hear that a website called http://www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk has been launched as part of the Freedom to Speak up Review which is looking at encouraging an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS. This website enables people working in the NHS who have raised a concern whilst at work to provide feedback about how their concern was handled and whether they thought it was dealt with appropriately. This Review follows the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Public Enquiry and the information provided by people online will feed into the Review. It is clear from the findings of the Mid Staffordshire public enquiry that there were chronic failings in the NHS during the Labour years about the ability to raise concerns about the NHS and I encourage constituents who work within the NHS to respond to the Website providing details of their experiences. I understand the closing date for submissions online is 10 September.

Jeremy Hunt and “whole-stay” doctors…

January 24, 2014

Yesterday the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt announced the introduction of “whole stay” doctors who will be in charge of the entire package of a patient’s care. It used to be the case that there was one nominated doctor in charge of each patient admitted to hospital but this practice was phased out by Labour during the last administration. It is difficult for patients and their relatives not knowing who has overall responsibility for their loved one’s care whilst in hospital.

It will be reassuring to know who is in charge and to whom patients and their relatives can address any questions and it allows for proper continuity of care. By having a “whole stay” doctor, there will be one care plan and proper handovers to the patient’s GP once they are discharged.

This new initiative has already been trialled successfully in Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital in London. In order to extend continuity of care beyond hospitals Jeremy Hunt highlighted the need for named accountable GPs. From April, starting with the over 75s, GPs will be named to ensure there is less chance of a breakdown of communication about a patient’s care plan once they return to the community. This should reduce the risk of possible readmission to hospital. I welcome these two announcements and look forward to patients receiving a better “joined-up” service from the NHS.

Staggering amounts of money lost by the NHS just because of missed appointments….

January 24, 2014

In the National Audit Office report “NHS waiting times for elective care in England” which was published yesterday, I note reference has been made to the huge amount of money which is estimated to have been lost (£225 million) by the NHS by patients missing first outpatient appointments in 2012-13. This is a staggering amount of money to be lost just because of people failing to turn up for appointments.

The NHS is a marvelous institution which provides healthcare for all irrespective of patient means but I do think we need to treat the system with a little respect because of the sheer costs involved when the system is abused. If the £225 million which was lost could be ploughed back into NHS services we might have even more doctors and nurses and better provision of services.

I urge my constituents to keep to their medical appointments where possible and where not, ensure they contact the relevant medical department to let them know they cannot attend an appointment so that the slot can be offered to someone else and money can be saved.

The Lister’s Macmillan Cancer Centre

October 11, 2013

This week I was invited to the turf-cutting ceremony to mark the start of building the new £3 million cancer centre at the Lister hospital in Stevenage. This development will radically improve the Lister’s cancer facilities, double its current chemotherapy capacity and vastly enhance the current patient experience. The building is being funded jointly by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support. I understand that Macmillan Cancer Support has launched a fundraising appeal for £1.5 million and is looking for donations. The Centre will also provide a greater number of consulting rooms, more staff working areas and access to Macmillan welfare benefit advisors to assist patients with financial concerns.

I was delighted to attend the event with my neighbouring MP for Stevenage Stephen McPartland, representatives from Macmillan Cancer Support, the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, a local patient Tracey and also members from local councils in the Lister catchment area. I believe the building is due to open by next May 2014 which is excellent and I urge people to get donating at: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate/macmillan-projects/lister.html

A Call to Action by NHS England

July 11, 2013

NHS England is calling for everyone to engage in debate on the future of healthcare provision in England. In its publication “The NHS: It belongs to the people: a Call to Action,” NHS England has outlined the challenges it believes the NHS (now in its sixtieth year) faces in the coming future. These include an ageing society versus the increasing costs of providing care, the rise of long-term conditions against limited productivity gains and increasing expectations over constrained public resources. With the launch of this document NHS England hope that by entering into dialogue with key stakeholders together with analysis of these challenges, some direction can be reached on how best to contend with these various issues. The engagement is intended to be patient and public centred and will operate through local, regional and national events in addition to online and digital mediums. On the back of this feedback, Clinical Commissioning Groups are scheduled to create 3-5 year commissioning plans which should outline commitments to patients and improvements to services.

I believe this initiative is long overdue and if anyone in my constituency wishes to contribute online, they can do so via the NHS Choices website: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/about/Pages/a-call-to-action.aspx

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry…

February 8, 2013

Like many of my constituents I am sure, I have been appalled to hear about the conditions which NHS patients were exposed to when treated by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust at Stafford Hospital between 2005-2009. In the House yesterday the Prime Minister made a statement following the publication by the chair of the Inquiry Robert Francis QC’s latest report; the catalogue of disasters which led to unacceptable levels of care at the hands of the Mid Staffs. NHS Trust with unforgiveable consequences for many simply defies belief.

The report which was published yesterday made 35 pages of recommendations and these show repeated and crippling shortcomings in the care provided by the Mid Staffs NHS Trust during 2005-2009. To say that there are some lessons to be learnt is an understatement; there are many many lessons to be learnt and it is deeply regrettable that these lessons should be learnt because of another’s patient’s dreadful experience. I can only hope that with the help of the report and the start of the new initiatives mentioned by David Cameron in his speech, radical change will be brought to bear not only in the Mid Staffs NHS Trust but also across the board in other NHS Trusts as well, so that people receive the best hospital experience they can. David Cameron referred to a facility going forward where patients will be able to provide feedback about the hospitals they have been treated at, he also referred to greater transparency and accountability for those providing care and I was pleased to see that he has asked the Care Quality Commission to appoint a Chief Inspector of Hospitals.

We should certainly be mindful that it would not have been possible to gather so much useful evidence for the report were it not for the contributions to the Inquiry of those families whose relations had suffered as a consequence of their NHS treatment in Staffordshire. These bereaved relatives have played a fundamental role in unearthing the truth and we can but hope that as a result of their determined assistance in the Inquiry, such tragedies at the hands of the NHS, are not allowed to be repeated in the future.

To see Sir Francis Robert QC’s report visit: http://www.midstaffspublicinquiry.com/report

Keeping the NHS Promise to Royston

April 18, 2012

Royston residents were pleased to hear of major investment in the health and care infrastructure of the town with a brand new care home and a £1 million extension to the Health Centre, but this was on the basis that NHS intermediate care patients would continue to be treated in hospital or care home beds in Royston during the building of the new care home. There were also questions to be asked about ensuring that the future health needs of the town were met by the new building works.

However, immediately after the decision by NHS Hertfordshire we were told that the Hertfordshire Community NHS trust, which provides the nursing staff for the hospital, had intervened to say that they would no longer staff Royston and that Royston patients would actually be sent to Hitchin for an indefinite period. This is completely unacceptable and local County Councillors and I have written to the newspapers and made our postion clear to the NHS. We want the NHS to keep its promise to Royston. A further meeting is planned in the near future. The letters are below.

Letter to Local Papers:

Dear Sir,

We are writing about Royston Hospital and its services. We want to ensure the best possible outcome for Royston residents.

NHS Hertfordshire PCT currently owns and manages Royston Hospital, which has 12 beds usable for intermediate care for Stevenage and North Hertfordshire patients. Hitchin Hospital provides similar beds for the area too. The separate Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust are based at Royston Hospital providing the nursing care for the beds and District Nurse and Community Nursing services to local residents in their homes. There are about 30 outpatient clinics which operate from time to time, of which physiotherapy is the largest.

Last year, NHS Hertfordshire decided to place its intermediate care patients closer to their homes and beds are to be provided through the NHS in care homes. So, Stevenage patients will be in beds in Stevenage and Baldock patients in Baldock and so on. Hitchin Hospital is to close. Royston area patients in beds in Royston Hospital usually number about 5.

Last November, NHS Hertfordshire started a consultation on the future for Royston Hospital services. This was widely covered in our local papers and Oliver Heald put out a Press Statement asking local residents to read the proposals and take part.

They are planning to knock down the existing Hospital, because it is worn out and build a brand new care home, which will also provide our Royston NHS beds for intermediate care. The Herts County Council Social Services will lead on the building project and the land is likely to be sold to the care home developer, because care homes in Hertfordshire are in the independent sector.

There were choices to be made about whether the outpatients and Community Nursing services would be better provided at the new care home on the existing site or in the town centre. NHS Hertfordshire suggested an option of putting the outpatients and clinics at the Health Centre in a first storey extension. This would also provide a lift and give much needed additional space for Dr Brownrigg’s practice. This would cost almost £1 million.

A meeting “Conversation Cafe” was advertised and took place at the Golf Club with a good turnout and it was clear that there were mixed views in the town. We have met the Friends of Royston Hospital, NHS representatives and a number of GPs and other councillors and heard views from many local people. Some people would like the outpatients and clinics to be at the existing Hospital site for the future as part of the new care home. Some prefer the Health Centre extension option long term and some would like a brand new Health Centre on a site yet to be identified.

NHS Hertfordshire have now announced their decision that they are going to allow Herts County Council to build the care home on the Hospital site and that the Health Centre will have the extension built.

The consultation was on the basis that Royston’s intermediate care patients would always be in beds in the Royston area, either at the Hospital or in local care homes, while the new care home is built. However, shortly after NHS Hertfordshire’s decision, the Community NHS Trust suddenly said it was no longer able to staff the beds at Royston Hospital and that patients from Royston would have to go to Hitchin Hospital for an indefinite period. This is unacceptable. The Community NHS Trust must comply with the clear basis of the consultation and ensure Royston patients remain in Royston area. We are taking this up with them urgently.

We are asking NHS Hertfordshire about the medium term, as Royston is expanding and will need more health facilities. We are also asking about the proceeds of sale of the site and whether money will be available as a legacy to provide for future health facilities in Royston. It is important that plans for the new building take account of and allow for future town expansion and future health needs.

We are arranging a further meeting with NHS Hertfordshire. The outpatients and Community Nursing services will be based at Royston Hospital, until the new Health Centre extension is completed.

It is welcome that the extension to the Health Centre is going ahead and a brand new care home is being built. This is a major investment in Royston’s health and care infrastructure. However, we are concerned that Royston patients should be treated in Royston and to see the full picture for the future and are therefore pressing for answers to the points above.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Heald MP
County Councillor Fiona Hill
County Councillor Tony Hunter

Letter to Hertfordshire NHS Community Trust :

David Law, Chief Executive,
Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust,
Unit 1A Howard Court,
14 Tewin Road,
Welwyn Garden City,
Hertfordshire AL7 1BW. 16 April 2012

Dear Mr Law,

Royston Hospital

The recent consultation regarding the future of Royston Hospital was on the basis that Royston’s intermediate care patients would always be in beds in the Royston area, either at the Hospital or in local care homes, while the new care home is built. Responses were made on that basis and so was the decision. However, shortly after NHS Hertfordshire’s decision, the Community NHS Trust suddenly said it was no longer able to staff the beds at Royston Hospital and that patients from Royston would have to go to Hitchin Hospital for an indefinite period. This is unacceptable.

It is my firm belief that the Community NHS Trust must comply with the clear basis of the consultation and ensure Royston patients remain in Royston area. I would be grateful for your urgent assurance that the NHS promise to Royston will be kept either by reopening the necessary beds at Royston Hospital or contracting for these services from care homes locally.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Heald MP

Cameron promises to cut the deficit, and NOT the NHS

January 6, 2010

David Cameron has pledged to protect NHS spending and outlined the Conservative Reform Plan for the NHS.

David has explained how much worse health outcomes have become under Labour and pointed out that life expectancy and infant mortality rates for poor and rich have now widened so much that they are as big as they were in Victorian times!

I think that it’s a very good idea to make the NHS “accountable to the people, not the politicians”, and I also like the idea of focusing spending on preventable diseases and public health priorities.

In total David set out 20 ways in which he wants to improve Britain’s health services, including:
– end the scandal of mixed sex accommodation and increase the number of single rooms in hospitals;
– give mothers real choice over where to have their baby and introduce local “maternity networks” to ensure that mothers can safely access the right care, in the right place, at the right time; and
– allow everyone, on retirement, to protect their homes from being sold to fund residential care cost by paying a one-off insurance premium of £8,000