‘Dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions’ ahead, ad­mits new hospi­tals chief

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others - By Chris Prag­nell

East Kent’s new hospi­tals chief is con­fi­dent he can drag the be­lea­guered trust out of the dol­drums.

Matthew Ker­shaw – nick­named “The Ax­e­man” at his pre­vi­ous trust – ad­mits “dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions” lie ahead.

He in­her­its a trust on a mon­i­tored pro­gramme of re­quired im­prove­ments known as “spe­cial mea­sures” that were in­tro­duced by govern­ment watch­dog the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion af­ter it iden­ti­fied un­der-per­form­ing emer­gency care, man­age­rial fail­ings, and a cul­ture of staff bul­ly­ing.

On top of that, the East Kent Hospi­tals Univer­sity Foun­da­tion Trust is run­ning at close to a £40 mil­lion deficit. But he says im­prove­ments were made by in­terim pre­de­ces­sor Chris Bown, and he in­tends to build on those.

CHAL­LENGES Mr Ker­shaw said the trust needs to im­prove emer­gency care flow, in terms of what comes to the hospi­tals in the first place; how the hospi­tals op­er­ate and how pa­tients then get dis­charged. He also said “pos­i­tive progress” needs to be made on the trust’s fi­nances and to en­sure that the qual­ity of care pro­vided is as good as it can be.

SPE­CIAL MEA­SURES He says the trust made real progress un­der Chris Bown’s lead­er­ship in com­ing out of spe­cial mea­sures, with a fol­lowup CQC in­spec­tion mov­ing the trust moved from “in­ad­e­quate” to “re­quires im­prove­ment”, al­though it re­mains in spe­cial mea­sures. He said the trust needs to im­prove emer­gency care and the way staff feel about work­ing for it. He said: “I hope that when the CQC come back next year we will be re­moved from spe­cial mea­sures – but that’s a CQC judge­ment, not mine. If we carry on do­ing the good work that’s been started, con­tinue the progress that’s un­der way, then I hope and ex­pect we’d get out of spe­cial mea­sures.

FI­NANCES Mr Ker­shaw said al­though a £40 mil­lion deficit was fore­cast, on a bud­get in ex­cess of £500 mil­lion, the likely deficit by the end of the year is likely to be £37 mil­lion. He said it would take some con­sid­er­able time and some quite chal­leng­ing work to get that size of deficit back un­der con­trol, but that was cru­cial.

CUTS He said: “I think we need to be care­ful when we de­scribe ‘cuts’ be­cause it wor­ries pa­tients, the pop­u­la­tion and staff, some­times un­nec­es­sar­ily. In my pre­vi­ous trust we made some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions, as I’ve done in other places that I’ve worked. I would not de­scribe them as cut­ting ser­vices.”

STAFF While hun­dreds of staff were needed to pro­vide care, the trust needs to find ways of re­duc­ing its re­liance on tem­po­rary agency staff which was would cost it “mul­ti­ple mil­lions of pounds this year”. He said re­duc­ing that fig­ure re­duces the cost of the staff, not re­duc­ing the num­bers of staff.

SAV­ING MONEY Mr Ker­shaw said the trust needed to be more ef­fi­cient in lots of other parts of the hospi­tals – in how it uses op­er­at­ing the­atres, the out­pa­tients de­part­ments and its pur­chas­ing poli­cies re­gard­ing sup­plies and equip­ment – on which tens and tens of mil­lions of pounds are spent each year.

STAFF JOBS He said: “Clearly we are mak­ing, and will need to con­tinue mak­ing, changes to how we work. And that will im­pact on in­di­vid­ual peo­ple be­cause it’s in­di­vid­ual peo­ple who run our ser­vices. My work here is to in­vest and sup­port staff to al­low us to pro­vide even bet­ter care to our pa­tients. But we’ve got to do that in a way that works fi­nan­cially.”

‘SU­PER­HOS­PI­TAL’ He said that while a sin­gle-site hos­pi­tal for the whole of east Kent has been talked about, it is not some­thing that is cur­rently be­ing ac­tively pur­sued – but what is be­ing ex­am­ined is look­ing at how ser­vices across the whole of east Kent are pro­vided in a “safe and sus­tain­able way”.

CHANGES Mr Ker­shaw was un­able to pin­point spe­cific changes as work is still un­der way in the process of look­ing at op­tions for the fu­ture.

OP­TIONS He said: “Ob­vi­ously your op­tions are about main­tain­ing it as it is now or chang­ing the fo­cus of one or more of those hospi­tals to still pro­vide ser­vices but to pro­vide dif­fer­ent sorts of ser­vices in dif­fer­ent ways and per­haps con­cen­trate some of the other ser­vices in one, two or three of those sites.

HIS AR­RIVAL Since he took over his new role Mr Ker­shaw said he had spent a lot of time meet­ing staff, to in­tro­duce him­self and to un­der­stand what the is­sues are from their per­spec­tive and iden­ti­fy­ing pri­or­i­ties.

Pic­ture: Chris Davey FM4196515

New hos­pi­tal trust chief ex­ec­u­tive Matthew Ker­shaw

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