‘Hospitals are dangerously full of old people’: Leigh MP Andy Burnham slams Jeremy Hunt over strained NHS care

Leigh MP Andy Burnham locked horns with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a stormy NHS Commons debate today claiming that hospitals are ‘dangerously full of older people’.

The Shadow Health Secretary warned that cuts to services and a ‘collapse’ in social care have left hospitals struggling to function effectively.

These fiery exchanges were made on the day that Jeremy Hunt made a statement to the Commons to update MPs about hospital trusts placed into specialist measures 12 months ago, including under-fire Tameside Hospital.

Mr Burnham said: “Local authority commissioning can be the root cause of failures but so is the impossible budget cuts that many are now having to absorb.

“And isn’t this the real reason why today we have such problems in our malnourished social care system?”

Addressing the claim that £3.7 billion has been cut from adult social care since 2009/10, Mr Burnham added: “That is not sustainable. How do you think older and disabled people will ever get the standards of care that you aspire to with cuts on this scale?

“The truth is the collapse of social care is in danger of dragging down hospitals.

They are becoming dangerously full of older people and struggling to function.”

Tameside Hospital was placed under the controls a year ago by Sir Bruce Keogh after mortality rates, patients’ experiences and staffing issues were deemed unfit for purpose.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have ruled that the Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has not demonstrated enough improvement following an inspection and will remain under the measures for the next six months.

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “We have seen significant improvements in almost all of the 11 trusts that were put into special measures, with exceptional progress in two trusts and very good progress in a further three.

“The hard work by trust staff that has underpinned this progress should be recognised.

“Special measures brings a new focus on quality improvement in trusts which have previously struggled to provide high quality care.”

Placing hospital trusts under special measures was part of the Government’s response to the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Last July, following a review into 14 other hospital trusts with higher than expected death rates, 11 trusts were put into special measures for a catalogue of failings and fundamental breaches of care.

Now, Sir Mike Richards, has said that most trusts have shown major improvements in leadership, patient safety, compassionate care and staff engagement since the introduction of the regime.

Following inspections, five of the trusts have been, or are expected to be, taken out of special measures.

However, Tameside is not among them and is one of the four that have made improvements but will be kept in the regime for an ‘extended period’ and decisions on the final two will be announced later in the week.

In addition, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announced that ailing care homes could be put into a similar failure regime as poor-performing hospitals in a statement to Parliament.

Mr Hunt told MPS that most of the hospital trusts that were put into special measures a year ago have shown significant improvements as he announced that the initiative is to be rolled out to include care homes and homecare services.

If these services fail to make improvements they could then face being shut down.

From October, these services across England will also face a ‘tough’ new inspection regime.

The services that are rated inadequate face being put into special measures and if they fail to make improvements following this they could be shut down.

“Mid Staffs was a wake-up call which uncovered how staff in a minority of isolated hospitals believed poor care was somehow normal and acceptable,” he said.

“Thanks to a sharp focus on admitting problems rather burying heads in the sand, some of these hospitals have tackled their deep-rooted failings for the first time and are on the road to recovery.

“Everybody wants to know they can get safe, compassionate care from their local hospital.

“The big difference special measures has made is that concerns of patients and staff are listened to and acted on quickly.”

Image courtesy of Parliament TV via YouTube, with thanks

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