Renewed calls for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust bosses to resign

Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-150615-132748001
Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-150615-132748001
  • Councillors are calling for ‘fresh leadership’ of organisation
  • The scrutiny committee is waiting for the results of a second CQC inspection

Councillors have issued fresh calls for the leaders of a failing hospital trust to resign.

East Sussex’s health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) met on Tuesday at County Hall, Lewes, to discuss an action plan for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) after a damning CQC report was published in March.

We need fresh leadership of the organisation.

Cllr Alan Shuttleworth

The report judged ESHT and its hospitals, The Conquest in Hastings and the Eastbourne DGH as ‘inadequate’.

Last month councillors declared a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the leadership of chief executive Darren Grayson and chairman Stuart Welling.

Speaking on Tuesday, councillor Alan Shuttleworth said it was ‘regrettable’ the leaders hadn’t listened to the views expressed by Hastings Borough Council that this was the ‘moment to go’.

“The action plan won’t change the fact we have had a damning report which has criticised the way ESHT is run and has criticised the way in which services for people across East Sussex have had to suffer,” he added.

“We need fresh leadership of the organisation.”

HOSC voluntary representative Julie Eason, said: “Even if the CQC say things are getting better I have lost all confidence and faith in that leadership team to do things in the proper way that is going to flush out and once and for all deal with the problems in the trust.”

The committee agreed to set up a scrutiny review board to examine ESHT’s quality improvement plan. It will focus on outpatients, patient records, maternity, surgery, pharmacy, whistle-blowing policies, incident reporting and bullying and harassment data.

The board will work with East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups and with ESHT to monitor the action plan.

Amanda Philpott, chief officer of East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), welcomed the committee’s plans to work with the CCG to scrutinise the trust’s improvement plan.

Cllr Michael Ensor, chairman, said he did not call the leadership to the meeting as there was no new evidence to look at.

“Whatever the management structure is we need to be on the button on the improvements of the services,” he said.

An additional HOSC meeting is set to be held in July following the results of the second CQC inspection – which took place days before the results of the first were revealed in March.

Cllr Peter Pragnell said if the next report was ‘fine and dandy’ it would be a ‘good outcome for the health of the people of East Sussex’.

He added if the report shows management is ‘clearly’ not taking the necessary steps to improve he would be ‘surprised’ to see them at the next HOSC meeting expecting them to ‘fall on their swords even at this late date’.

Although the committee does not have power to force leadership to resign, Cllr Pragnell said he expected the committee to have ‘full blown and full bloodied discussion’ with the trust when the results of the CQC report are revealed.