Visit to William Harvey Hospital to meet staff and discuss CQC concerns

On Friday 12th June, Helen Whately MP visited William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, which frequently provides care for residents of her Faversham and Mid Kent constituency. Helen was shown round the hospital’s Accident and Emergency department, as well as an Elderly Care ward, the Cardiac Unit and the Pathology Department. She spoke to staff about the challenges they face and asked patients about their experiences of care in the hospital.

During her visit, Helen met Chris Bown, Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust. Helen and Chris discussed the progress the hospital has made since its poor report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year, and particularly how the hospital is addressing the cultural concerns identified by the CQC. They also spoke about the future organisation of the Trust after recent press stories about potential reconfiguration.

Following Helen’s trip by train and bus from Faversham to Estuary View Health Centre, Chris Bown had looked into the concerns raised by Helen about the journey. He shared data about passenger numbers on the bus service and advised of plans to improve travel information sent to patients.

Helen said:

“It was good to see the Chief Executive of East Kent NHS Trust taking the CQC’s concerns very seriously. He described the work being put into creating a culture of openness within the hospital, so that staff will feel they can speak up and raise any concerns they have.

The nurses I met were positive, but did talk about the difficulties they face due to the level of vacancies and the difficulty of recruiting new staff. This is a problem faced by hospitals across the country but can be particularly difficult for hospitals like William Harvey competing with London hospitals for staff.

Chris Bown had also looked into the number of people using the bus service to get to Estuary View. His data seemed to suggest several hundred people every week, despite the lack of signage. As an immediate action, the Trust is going to change the letters outpatients will be sent when they book an appointment at Estuary View so they will include much better information about the journey to the health centre.”