Highs and lows of town's healthcare examined

HEALTHCARE in Weston has been rated as 'weak' in the same week as an urgent meeting has been called after a £10million deficit was revealed

HEALTHCARE in Weston has been rated as 'weak' in the same week as an urgent meeting has been called after a £10million deficit was revealed.The Healthcare Commission's Annual Health Check gave poor ratings for Weston Area Health Trust's (WAHT) and North Somerset Primary Care Trust's (PCT) use of resources and quality of services.Weston's MP John Penrose has requested the urgent briefing with PCT bosses to explain a £10million deficit revealed in end of year accounts.Both trusts were slammed for not providing the correct or enough evidence for sections of the assessment.Hospital bosses blame WAHT's poor performance on a £6.9m deficit and their decision to put resources into patient care rather than collecting evidence for the assessment.The Health Commission tested the hospital on 44 standards including clinical effectiveness, children's services, how it consulted patients and financial management.The report criticises the hospital for failing to provide evidence of the training of pharmacists, training staff in the Human Rights Act, not carrying out enough patient surveys and not providing literature in different languages.None of the standards missed were due to failures in treatment or cleanliness.However, WAHT was listed in the top three most efficient trusts in England by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement last week.It was also awarded an 'excellent' rating for reducing MRSA rates and deaths from heart disease and stroke.Mark Gritten, chief executive of WAHT, said a senior-level member of staff would be employed to gather the evidence and put a system in place to improve next year's rating.He said: "The staff will be very disappointed on being rated as weak on quality of services when it's just not true.""We produced a lot of evidence but it was not the right evidence."We have already improved since the judgement was made and I am confident that the next year's assessment will reflect these improvements."We have just started work on the construction of our new children's ward which is planned to open in January and we are looking forward to the future with confidence."Weston General Hospital also ranked third in the country for reducing the amount of time patients have to spend in wards before their operations and increasing the amount of surgery carried out.Mr Penrose said: "These reports are so disturbing that I need an urgent briefing on the implications for our local health services."The Trust has previously reported a deficit of £4.213million. If they are adding another £10million on top of that, then the situation can only be described as very grave. This is a financial black hole of epic proportions."The NHS Institute for innovation and Improvement has just ranked Weston General Hospital as one of the three most cost efficient hospitals in the country, so for the Health Commission to say the use of resources is poor is clearly madness."PCT chief executive Chris Born said: "We've identified additional financial pressures within the PCT's budget for this year and are currently quantifying them. "The Healthcare Commission's Assessment has shown that we must put more effort into organising and reporting our work so that we can assure ourselves that our commissioning and providing of services are both fully effective. I appreciate that this has been a weakness in the past, but the PCT is now ready to move on under new leadership and tackle challenges like this with renewed purpose and vigour.""We have a number of exciting initiatives underway, such as a new GP premises planned for Portishead and Weston and a project team working on a community hospital in Clevedon."A full report on the deficit will be made to the PCT board on October 27.


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