05 Jan 2018

The Secretary of State for Health, RT Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, was welcomed by Chief Executive Carolyn Regan yesterday for a Listening Event at the Trust.

Nearly 100 members of staff attended to hear Mr Hunt discuss his aspirations for the NHS as well as his key priorities, including patient safety, preventable deaths and sepsis. Professor Tim Kendall, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, was also in attendance.

Dr Jose Romero-Urcelay, Medical Director, briefly described the Trust’s most recent work to Mr Hunt and mentioned Quality Improvement programmes, service user involvement, the prevention of 5,000 admissions to acute hospitals, dementia link workers and our current Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating.

Mr Hunt thanked staff at the Trust for keeping patients safe, saying we had “made terrific progress despite facing many pressures.” In particular, he was impressed by the Trust’s reduction in out of area placements to zero, and added that other NHS Trusts should learn from this. He said: “You cannot underestimate the impact of this on patients.”

The Health Secretary also took time to reflect on the Trust’s CQC rating:

“I am very impressed with how the Trust’s CQC rating has been talked about today – it is treated like a ladder of improvement. Managers are those who take a Trust that is inadequate or requires improvement and turn it around to something that is outstanding.”

In addition, Mr Hunt labelled the Trust’s work to reduce restrictive practices as “extraordinary.”

Staff that attended the Listening Event were also given a chance to pose questions to Mr Hunt.

Service cuts at The Cassel Hospital

Mr Hunt explained that he would like to increase the amount of money in the NHS and that the NHS budget has increased by 10%. “We know it doesn’t feel like that as demand has also increased,” he said. “We are increasing the curve of investment.” In his response he also commented that he was not defending the cuts to services that have taken place.

Staff pay

A member of staff wished to know what Mr Hunt’s thoughts were regarding staff who felt they were not paid enough to maintain their own wellbeing. Mr Hunt was asked whether he felt patient and staff wellbeing went hand in hand too. The Health Secretary recognised that with inflation at 3% and successive pay increases only being at 1% after a period of freeze, a gap exists in real terms. Mr Hunt explained he is in discussion with the Agenda for Change trade union reps to address this but was not able say where the negotiations were up to as they are ongoing.

Cost improvement plans

Mr Hunt was quizzed about what safeguards were in place. In response he admitted that mental and physical health services were under huge pressure, reiterating that NHS budget has increased. He added that the NHS needed to recognise that the cost improvement agenda is the same as the safety improvement agenda. Mr Hunt said the CQC was the safeguard.

Brexit

When questioned about Brexit and the impact on the NHS, Mr Hunt said: “The NHS would fall over without EU workers.” He explained how 20% of all doctors in working in the NHS are not born in Britain, and that he wanted the “brightest and best from all over the world.” The Health Secretary also added he was pleased about the recent Brexit agreement for EU nationals.

Benefits

The Health Secretary responded to a question about government sanctions on benefits for those living with disabilities. In his response Mr Hunt said that as the former Shadow Minister for Disabled People, he was positive about the value of work for people with disabilities and of simplifying the plethora of benefits, but recognised care needed to be taken with the implementation of the changes.

Electronic prescribing

Mr Hunt was asked about funding in relation to electronic prescribing and said that NHS England would be leading a new medicine errors campaign to launch later this year.

Thank you to all staff who attended the event.