When I was standing to be the Member of Parliament for Colchester, I made clear that I sought to be a critical friend to the Trust at our hospital. That I would work with them to champion our success stories and the care which patients across North Essex receive, while holding them to account and being straight with them where things aren’t working.
My postbag often has correspondence from local residents praising the care which they have received whilst being treated at Colchester General Hospital. In particular, they have nothing but the highest regard for the care and dedication of the staff at our Hospital.
Unfortunately, our hospital has long standing problems. We were put into special measures in late 2013, and whilst staff and leadership have been working hard to improve the quality of care, things haven’t improved as quickly as any of us had hoped.
In their inspection early last month, the Care Quality Commission did acknowledge the improvements that the team at our hospital have made, whether it is delivering improved waiting times or recruiting more full-time nurses. However, they concluded that our Trust was still not in a position to be brought out of special measures.
This caused a problem as under the current rules, a hospital trust cannot be in special measures for more than two years. Once this period is up, if things haven’t improved, further action must be taken.
NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission have now set out what they believe these next steps should be: a long-term partnership between Colchester and Ipswich.
I don’t think that this is where anyone wanted to be. I would have loved to see our hospital make it out of special measures on its own. However, patient care must be the priority for all of us. If this partnership allows us to build on the improvements which staff at the hospital have already made, then it is a step which I will support.
Further, I see the potential partnership with Ipswich as an opportunity to tackle long-standing issues at the hospital. We don’t just need to see a sharing of services between our hospitals, but we must have action from NHS England to address financial issues affecting both Trusts.
I have requested a meeting with the leadership at Ipswich Hospital Trust. I want to stress that residents must continue to have services provided at Colchester General Hospital, that we need to the Trust to support our campaign to keep our urology surgical unit, and that we must have a plan to work with the staff at the hospital to continue delivering the high quality care received by so many in our town.
I will continue to work with our hospital to secure the resources necessary to improve services and deliver the care which local residents deserve. This partnership offers an opportunity to move forward in bringing our hospital out of special measures, and tackling the underlying problems faced by our Trust.