IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW: Hospital chief ‘sorry’ after damning report

Jan Sobieraj, chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.
Jan Sobieraj, chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.

Health bosses have issued an apology following a damning review of Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has given the site an overall rating of inadequate.

We apologise to the public and our patients for the areas where CQC identifies things we haven’t improved on.

Jan Sobieraj, chief executive of the trust

And United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT), which runs the site, is now set to go into special measures.

This is a major setback for ULHT after previously being rated as ‘requiring improvement’ in 2015. This was after being rated as inadequate in 2013.

Jan Sobieraj, chief executive of the trust, said: “We apologise to the public and our patients for the areas where CQC identifies things we haven’t improved on.

“We’re really disappointed by this report but it focuses on what we need to get right.”

He also added it was important to ‘recognise and celebrate what we’re doing right’.

Mr Sobieraj said patients should not be concerned about being treated at Pilgrim Hospital.

He insisted: “We are safe.”

This is despite the fact the CQC giving safety an overall rating of ‘inadequate’.

“Patients do not need to be worried,” said Mr Sobieraj. “My experience is when we fail we own up to it and patients are willing to talk to us and we tell them what we are doing about it.”

He pointed to recent friends and family surveys which he said showed nine out of 10 patients would recommend the trust to others. He revealed a staff survey further showed 73 per cent felt safety was a number one priority compared to 57 per cent last year.

He added: “I would like to reassure patients that in my view this report was issued in October. We have already resolved some of the issues. There are some bigger issues to resolve, including staff shortages and the recording of data that we are focused on.”

And while, Mr Sobieraj said he would rather not see the hospital placed into special measures he admits it would open up avenues for additional resources to help put the issues right.

“I’m not proud - we will take as much support as we can,” he said. “I’m up for anything which brings in more support.”

A new management team - featuring a lead nurse, doctor and manager - will be tasked with helping to turn around the hospital’s fortunes.

Mr Sobieraj said they will also help to reinforce how patients go ‘through a particular pathway’ - to ensure the best service possible.

He said the site also had to overcome a lot of ‘longstanding issues’ - not least financial difficulties and configuration of an ageing site.

Mr Sobieraj also pointed to outside factors having a knock-on effect on hospitals services - not least the Strategic Transformation Plan (STP), which when implemented will spell far-reaching changes to the way NHS services are delivered locally.

“The inability to progress the STP is stopping us on community services,” said Mr Sobieraj. “Delays are also affecting the trust’s ability to recruit.”

However, while some changes could be made rapidly, the STP still requires public consultation and the CQC are almost certain to return for a visit before it can be fully implemented.

A follow up inspection visit is expected later this year - early 2018 at the latest.

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