MPs have called for ‘urgent answers’ after Milton Keynes Hospital was found to have dangerously low levels of nursing staff.
A report by hospital watchdog,the Care Quality Commission, found it was one of 17 hospitals to have below expected staffing levels. The report also found it had failed on standards of care for patients and patient safety.
Labour parliamentary spokesman, Andrew Pakes said he is concerned a combination of cuts to the NHS and the £3 billion cost of the Government’s health reforms is putting pressure on hospital resources.
He said: “We need to get to the bottom of what is happening at our hospital. The hospital needs to come clean and let the public know what is going on with staffing. The Government’s health reforms are putting huge pressure on NHS resources. As a growing city we need more health resources, not less. These are some hard questions to answer. A full review would be the best start.”
Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Health Secretary, backed Mr Pakes. He said: “The public in Milton Keynes has a right to know if their local hospital is taking risks with staffing levels. I back Andrew’s call for answers. The Prime Minister’s decision to spend £3 billion on back-office restructuring has diverted much needed resources away from the NHS front-line.”
Despite defending the quality of service in the hospital both MPs have admitted that questions need to be answered going forward.
MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, said: ““My experience of Milton Keynes Hospital, like most of my constituents, has been an overwhelmingly positive one. That said, I take the criticisms of the CQC seriously as I know the hospital do and hope to be able to discuss the matter with senior management next week.
“Historically, thanks to the commitment and hard work of the staff, when the hospital has encountered issues in the past, as we had with the maternity unit, these have been successfully addressed and I intend to support staff again in addressing the current concerns.”
Milton Keynes South counterpart, Iain Stewart, said: “The CQC’s findings are clearly concerning, especially at a time when more resources are going into the NHS locally and the number of clinical staff is increasing.
“As a matter of urgency, I am raising this with the hospital’s managers to find out what steps they are taking to address the shortcomings identified by the CQC. I will also be raising the issue in Parliament this week.
“We all accept that Milton Keynes Hospital has had its difficulties over the last decade and it is vital that these are addressed.
“However, many of my constituents also report excellent care at the hospital and I have seen for myself the highly dedicated and professional staff at work. It is important that we do not unfairly criticise the good performance at the hospital while we identify and fix the problems.”
Lisa Knight, director of Patient Care and Chief Nurse at Milton Keynes Hospital, said: “Providing safe, quality patient care is the priority for Milton Keynes Hospital.
“The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected two wards in August 2012. Patients the inspectors spoke to said they had been treated well and that nurses had taken the time to talk to them. However, the inspectors found issues in some areas of care standards including staffing levels and meeting patients’ individual needs. We are sorry that the inspectors’ findings did not meet the high standards that our patients deserve.
“The hospital is reviewing its staffing levels to ensure that every ward has the right number of doctors and nurses with the right skills to safely care for their patients and that all patients’ needs are met.
“We have already put in place an action plan to make sure improvements are made where necessary. As the inspectors observed, the hospital already has systems in place to identify patients’ needs; extra audits, reviews and training are being implemented to ensure our procedures are always followed. We have also started two-hourly checks, during which nursing staff ask patients and check they have everything they need to ensure they are safe and comfortable.
“As a listening and learning organisation, the hospital is always keen to receive patient feedback. Last year the hospital launched a programme called We Care, during which staff listened to patients’ experiences of receiving care - and we will continue to listen. We are committed to making sure good clinical practice is embedded in our hospital and that every patient receives safe, quality care.”