COMMENT: Striving for excellence with one hand tied behind their back

(08 October, 2015) Editorials

You can’t judge the performance of a hospital like King’s in a vacuum - financial constraints are bound to have an impact.

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Given the financial straits King’s College Hospital Trust find themselves in, it’s no real surprise that their latest appraisal has adjudged them as ‘requiring improvement’.

In August we reported how the Trust needed £86 million of savings in this financial year alone, not least because of their PFI tie up with the Princess Royal Hospital in Bromley. Couple this with increased pressure on services due to an ageing local population and the Care Quality Commission was only ever going to draw this conclusion. Sure enough, the Emergency Department is overcrowded, the critical care service is short on beds, the maternity ward is sometimes understaffed and – hard to believe in a major central London hospital – there has been intermittent flooding of the dialysis unit and endoscopy suite.

Yet the report also noted the ‘outstanding practice’ among some employees, including trauma nurses, a youth worker drop-in scheme in the Emergency Department and the ‘pioneering work’ being done by some of the hospital’s specialist services. The hospital itself says many of the weaknesses identified in the report have already been addressed, as ever seems to be the case when such reports are published.

You can’t judge the performance of a hospital like King’s in a vacuum – financial constraints are bound to have an impact. So the excellent staff work noted is to be applauded.

Yet with £8 million proposed to be shaved off the staff pay bill by March next year, you really have to fear for the future.

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