Hospital trust faces debt of £25million

PILGRIM'S PROGRESS: The Boston hospital is one of three managed by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
PILGRIM'S PROGRESS: The Boston hospital is one of three managed by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
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The trust managing Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital has cut its patient death rate after being placed in special measures.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) – which also has hospitals in Grantham and Lincoln under its wing – revealed steps it has taken in its “Quality Improvement Journey” yesterday (Wednesday) to county councillors on the Health Scrutiny Committee.

Last year, the committee’s chairman, Christine Talbot, called for the whole of the trust’s board to resign in the wake of a critical report into high death rates at the three hospitals.

The national mortality rate benchmark is 100 – and the trust has now fallen below that, cutting its rate from 111 to 94.5.

The trust was placed in special measures – along with around a dozen others across the country – by the NHS Trust Development Authority following Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of hospitals with high death rates.

His report contained 57 recommendations where improvements could be made in the safety, quality and responsiveness of ULHT’s services.

The Keogh Review and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted low staffing levels as a key concern, but a report from Jane Lewington, the trust’s chief executive, reveals ULHT launched “the biggest recruitment exercise it has ever undertaken”.

In her paper to the Health Scutiny Committee, Ms Lewington says the trust recruited 350 new nurses since April last year, resulting in “100 extra nurses on our wards”.

But the number of beds across the three hospitals was also cut by 100 to help maintain the right staffing levels.

Ms Lewington said there had been “261 milestones” in the hospitals’ Quality Improvement Journey and “all the recommendations and findings in the Keogh Review and the CQC inspections are being addressed”.

But she also told councillors: “This year the trust is planning to deliver a £25million cost improvement programme which will leave the trust in deficit by £25million at the end of 2014/15.”

She also says there are key challenges ahead and challenges over the next few years “will include the need for reconfiguration of acute services across the county if we are to ensure that we can continue to drive up the quality and safety of everything we do”.

Health Scrutiny Committee vice-chairman Coun Chris Brewis believes the trust is going to get out of special measures, but says that’s not based on any clinical expertise.

He said: “If they keep moving forward like that, I think they will (get out of special measures) – but that’s an opinion, it’s just a gut feeling, there’s no clinical basis to that.

“I think so but we shall find out.”