A deterioration in the standards, safety, waiting times and financial health at St George’s hospital were last week highlighted by the Wandsworth Labour Group in a debate at the Town Hall.
Speaking in the debate, Labour councillor Mark Thomas said the findings of a recent inspection of St George’s by the Care Quality Commission, were “frankly very concerning”.
Specifically, Cllr Thomas said he was concerned about overcrowding, electrical safety issues, a failure to meet the 4 hour A&E waiting time target, a year end forecast deficit of £55.5 million, a staff survey which reported unacceptable levels of bullying and harassment and the Trust’s “extreme” overall level of exposure to core operational risk.
He also noted that “the challenges faced by the Trust have been compounded by the industrial action caused by the Government’s mishandling of the junior doctor’s dispute”.
Speaking in the debate, Tooting MP, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, a former A and E doctor at St George’s hospital, made a passionate speech in defence of junior doctors, their commitment and hard work.
After recent changes in the management of St George’s hospital, it now has an interim Chair and Chief Executive who face the challenge of a huge financial deficit. Despite delivering £13.5 million in savings so far this year, the Trust which runs St George’s is still forecasting an end of year deficit of £55.5 million.
“The danger is that, with a target to make a further £36.5 million savings this year, and the Government created body NHS Improvement on its back, the Trust makes cuts that are at the expense of patient care and safe staffing levels”, according to Cllr Thomas.
The Labour Group proposed ways in which Wandsworth Council could assist the Trust, including improving those Council services which help people avoid admission to hospital in the first place, such as support for the vulnerable and elderly at home. This would reduce the number of delayed discharges and preventable hospital admissions.
In the first quarter of this financial year, Wandsworth’s Better Care Fund missed its targets for reducing hospital admissions, preventing readmission to hospital and reducing delayed transfers of care.
The Labour Group also called on the Council to engage more actively in discussions across South West London about reshaping the way that health and social care services are provided.
Cllr Thomas said: “We should be leading the debate about how local government and the NHS can work together to invest in imaginative new services, that are genuinely rooted in and will deliver better outcomes for our residents, particularly in the most deprived areas of the borough such as Roehampton”.
He concluded that “we recognise the dedicated care being provided by staff at St George’s but it is clear that there has been a serious breakdown in leadership and governance, and the Council needs to step up its efforts to ensure the needs of the people of Wandsworth are not overlooked as a result”.
Read the full Labour motion on ‘Improving health outcomes for Wandsworth residents’