UHNS not listening and not responding to patients and public in Stafford

On the 6th of August the Stoke Sentinel published the following article:

Olive branch from University Hospital of North Staffordshire chief Mark Hackett

It detailed:

THE boss of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire has offered an olive branch to protesters trying to stop it taking over their own hospital.

UHNS chief executive Mark Hackett met members of the Support Stafford Hospital group to invite them to become involved in how changes to the complex are carried out.

It comes as a protest camp by demonstrators at the town’s hospital entered its third week.

The campaigners are trying to stop key services such as maternity and critical care being switched to the Stoke-on-Trent trust after the November takeover. But their attempts at securing a judicial review have failed.

Mr Hackett told them: “We want to work with you on the design and planning of new buildings and services.

“But we will not transfer services from Stafford Hospital until we have the capacity in place in Stoke-on-Trent.” His comments came during the first in a series of communication and engagement sessions planned by UHNS in the coming weeks in both Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.

Mr Hackett was joined at the event by Stafford Hospital chief Maggie Oldham.

This sounds hopeful; but further clarification reveals it is nothing of the sort; I contacted the editor of the Sentinal who pointed me towards the following press release on UHNS’s website:

 

University Hospital’s Chief Executive Mark Hackett met with members of Support Stafford Hospital and other representatives of patients and the local community on Tuesday to invite their involvement in the way in which changes to services at Stafford Hospital are carried out.

“What we want to do is to work with you on the design and planning of new buildings and services,” he told the meeting, the first in a series of communication and engagement sessions planned by University Hospital to take place in the coming weeks in Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent. The aim of these sessions is to enable the Trust’s leaders to listen and respond to concerns, questions and suggestions from local communities on the changes to services set out in the clinical model recommended by the Trust Special Administrators (TSAs) to Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (MSFT) and approved by the Secretary of State on 26 February 2014.

MSFT Chief Executive Maggie Oldham joined Mark and senior University Hospital colleagues in answering questions from attendees at the event, which was supported by Healthwatch Staffordshire and chaired by Robin Morrison, Chairman of Engaging Communities Staffordshire. Attendees included representatives from Katharine House Hospice, Community Council of Staffordshire, Mid Staffs Patient Carer Council, North Staffs Carers Association, Action on Hearing Loss and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

After describing the changes set out in the clinical model in some detail, Mark went on to set out a range of benefits for patients of the integration of University Hospital and Stafford Hospital in early November this year. These include access to increased consultant led care, with higher levels of consultant cover out-of-hours and at weekends; the development of a consultant led A&E service, networked effectively with Stoke-on-Trent’s major trauma centre; the setting up of an integrated paediatric assessment process as part of urgent care services and the expansion of paediatric outpatient and paediatric ‘hospital at home’ services to supplement schemes aimed at avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and enabling appropriate early discharge into the community.

A 60 million pounds investment in bricks and mortar at Stafford Hospital will bring the decades old building up to modern standards and enhance the ‘patient experience’ through greater privacy and dignity with more single rooms and en-suite facilities, the creation of new wards and theatres and the total refurbishment and expansion of the A&E Department to make more space for outpatients and radiology.

In response to concerns raised by Support Stafford Hospital and other representatives about capacity at City General Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent to take on extra work, Mark gave this reassurance: “We are committed to implementing the TSA clinical model but will not transfer services from Stafford Hospital until we have the capacity in place in Stoke-on-Trent. We have secured funding of 40 millions pounds to expand facilities at City General Hospital and will have an additional 100 beds and a new 12 bedded critical care unit by January/February next year plus new wards for acute surgery and gynaecology and more car parking.

“We will be moving some staff accommodation off site to create more space for patients and will be examining the potential for providing accommodation for parents. In addition, we are looking to provide a shuttle bus service for staff between the two sites and exploring the possibility with public transport providers of bus services to and from the Stoke and Stafford sites,” he concluded.

University Hospital will be holding further communication and engagement sessions for representatives of patients and the public in Stoke-on-Trent on 16 September and a joint event for both Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford representatives on 13 October 2014.

I wrote to UHNS pointing out that there has been no meeting between Support Staford Hospital and Mark Hackett/UHNS and received this answer:

Dear Mr Duffy,

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch. The meeting was organised and hosted by Healthwatch and I understand a range of stakeholders attended, including UHNS and Support Stafford Hospital. At the meeting the Trust met, with what it believed to be, three representatives (including the Deputy Chair and Secretary) from the Support Stafford Hospital committee group. At this meeting there were discussions between all stakeholders, which is referred to in the briefing on the Trust’s website.

I’m therefore unaware of the inaccuracies to which you refer to. Should an inaccuracy be identified, the Trust will of course clarify this on its website. However, could I ask that this is raised by one of the representatives present so that I can pass their concerns directly to Mr Hackett and other UHNS colleagues who attended.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Ashcroft | Senior Communications Manager

University Hospital of North Staffordshire

 
Part of my answer to this was:
 

It is a long stretch of the imagination to say that when members of SSH have attended a public meeting that you can say Mark Hackett has “met members of the Support Stafford Hospital group to invite them to become involved in how changes to the complex are carried out.”

Please explain exactly how this can be construed as implying this? Where is the ‘olive branch’ referred to by the Sentinel, where is the invitation to SSH to “become involved in how changes to the complex are carried out?”

 
To which I received this answer:
 

Dear Mr Duffy,

Thank you for giving the Trust the opportunity to comment on this. To clarify this for The Sentinel and yourself, I can confirm that this wasn’t a public meeting. This was an engagement event attended by 21 representatives from 11 NHS, patient and public bodies, who received an invitation directly from Healthwatch on behalf of UHNS. This included Support Stafford Hospital in the form of the Deputy Chair and Secretary (and one other representative). A formal summary report has been sent to Healthwatch and this will be circulated in due course to those who attended. There are more such events scheduled later this year.

The Trust won’t be clarifying its release as we believe it is accurate. The Trust read the subsequent piece in The Sentinel, and although the language was different, as you would expect, we believe the reporting to be accurate.

I hope that this explains any confusion regarding this meeting.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Ashcroft | Senior Communications Manager

University Hospital of North Staffordshire

 
I asked Andrew to “explain how you intend to and are “Listening and responding to patients and public in Stafford” and how you intend to “engage with Support Stafford Hospital,” a meeting which was little more than a presentation does not constitute ‘engagement’ with SSH. You are already claiming to be doing this, but no meetings are currently planned with Support Stafford Hospital. To which I received the following
 

Dear Mr Duffy,

I am sorry that you do not agree with the way in which the Trust has interpreted the meeting that was held. It is our understanding that the content of the release is accurate and was written as a reflection of the event by those who attended on behalf of UHNS. With regards to the language in which The Sentinel report on the information that we release, the Trust can’t be held accountable for this. I’m aware from the body of this email that you have already approached them but it would be The Sentinel that would need to defend their use of language.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Ashcroft | Senior Communications Manager

University Hospital of North Staffordshire

 My answer:
Andrew,

If you look into the etymology of the word ‘engage’ you will discover that by implication it means a two-way conversation; by using that word you need to be involving us in talks; anything else is disingenuous – this is misleading many people who think that you are involving SSH in a constructive dialogue with UHNS. This is misleading people.

As I say:

Explain how you intend to and are “Listening and responding to patients and public in Stafford” and how you intend to “engage with Support Stafford Hospital,” a meeting which was little more than a presentation does not constitute ‘engagement’ with SSH.

Regards,

Richard
I have received no answer hus far; as things stand I consider the position of UHNS on this matter to be disingenuous at best; and certainly misleading; there has to date been no formal meeting between Support Stafford Hospital and UHNS or its representatives, no ‘engagement’, no listening and no responding to patients and public in Stafford – and certainly no ‘olive branch.
 
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2 thoughts on “UHNS not listening and not responding to patients and public in Stafford”

  1. They are complicit in yet more deceit by UHNS. Bricks, mortar and a great looking facade do not heal the sick! There is more to healthcare than than those, time the powers that be realised that.

  2. In a recent radio broadcast Mark Hackett said that he had no need to engage with the people of Stafford. I accept his blunder in the interview with Radio Stoke to be more truthful than the above.

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