Hospital progress rewarded with Karen James award nomination…. but challenges remain.


Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust’s Karen James, has been short-listed for the prestigious ‘Chief-Executive-of-the-Year’ Health Service Journal award it was announced at the Trust’s AGM.

Ms James has been in London presenting before the board of assessors who will announce their decision on November the 23rd at a glitzy ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel in London .

Two other hospital executives from the North West and four others from across the country are in competition with Ms James for the award.

The announcement indicated the progress that has been achieved under the new leadership team headed by Ms James, who modestly  cited the nomination as recognition for the whole team’s hard work.

The current board was appointed in the aftermath of the Keogh Review’s shocking indictment of governance and patient care at the hospital and it is clear under the new board the hospital’s standards have progressed, albeit from a very low base.

The hospital has made notable advances across a range of performance indicators since being taken out of ‘special measures’ in 2015, however challenges remain.
There has been a rise in missed four-hour targets for Accident and Emergency waiting times, in addition to death rates that remain stubbornly higher than the expected rates and amongst the worst in the country.
It was the contention of the Chief Executive that this was more a ‘quality data issue’ relating to the way in which expected death rates were calculated rather than a clinical care issue.

This conclusion was drawn after the Trust said it conducted a thorough review of each and every one of the deaths that had occurred in the hospital.
Patient re-admissions to hospital within 30-days of discharge, however, were also above target which the hospital’s annual report explained was due to: “the care and treatment provided by the Trust, whilst demonstrating improvement in year, was still not consistently provided to the standards required.’
Rod McCord of the Patients Group said:  “This was a refreshingly honest admission for a hospital that had previously been notoriously reticent to disclose uncomfortable findings, but it seems odd in the circumstances that the hospital could rule out such sub-optimal care and treatment as being in any way complicit in the much higher than expected death rates.”
Mr McCord adds: “A matter of further concern for the local community is the potential consequences of the radical re-structuring that the hospital is presently undergoing, with the integration of health and social care and a reoriented focus upon preventative measures and care in the community.”

The shift in emphasis will apparently result in the planned demolition of the hospital’s Charlesworth Building and the loss of 246 acute beds with overall bed capacity reduced from its current level of 449 beds to only 203.

Further concerns for Mr McCord and the Tameside Hospital Action Group related to a half hearted assurance that emergency care service would be maintained as opposed to a clear promise to keep an A&E unit on site.

Mr McCord added: “Clearly, these are not unequivocally one and the same, and the people of Tameside and Glossop will want to know whether or not Tameside Hospital’s A&E department is set to be downgraded, perhaps to a 9 – 5 urgent care centre, as has happened elsewhere.
The consequences of this are invariably a loss of the comprehensive diagnostic, care and treatment services required by a fully-functioning A&E unit with patients having to travel much further afield to access such services.
The integration of health and social care is to be welcomed but public consultation has thus far been minimal.
The hospital as we know it is in the process of being dismantled and the public needs to be taken on board and fully informed and consulted about the sweeping changes that are currently being imposed.”