Praise for Hartlepool and Stockton hospital staff under ‘unprecedented pressure’

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

A HOSPITAL trust says it has much to be proud of despite coming under unprecedented pressure.

Managers for hospitals in Hartlepool and North Tees, in Stockton, say many areas have performed well in several months.

They include keeping on top of dangerous superbugs, ambulance waiting times, fewer complaints, and high public satisfaction ratings.

Staff were praised for their efforts by hospital directors at the last board meeting of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The high performance was despite dealing with what bosses have called “unprecedented pressure” on demand in accident and emergency and admissions.

The hospital trust was among three health trusts that recorded higher-than-expected death rates for the second year running, according to The Health and Social Care Information Centre.

But the trust stressed the figures are down to the way they are calculated and more people are not dying in its hospitals.

A large proportion of emergency patients (20 per cent) the trust sees are dealt with through its ambulatory care unit and are not counted in the mortality rates.

The trust said it is continually working to make improvements across all areas.

Trust chairman Paul Garvin said: “The Care Quality Commission haven’t identified us as being of significant risk that they want to come in and immediately visit, which is a positive thing,

“They recognise the work that’s going on in the trust.”

In December, 96.85 per cent of ambulance handovers were within 15 minutes.

Recent pressure was blamed for eight handovers taking more than 30 minutes.

But the trust board said it was the best in the region for handover times.

The trust has had just one case of the superbug MRSA in over two years.

But the latest case in December came from a contaminated blood supply and not the patient suspected of having the bacterium.

Up until December last year, the trust reported 15 cases of clostridium difficile against a target of 30.

Mr Garvin added: “When you reflect back on a few years ago these numbers were almost unthinkable and at times unachieveable.”

In the trust’s most recent Friends and Family Test, 89 per cent of people attending A&E said the would recommend it, and in maternity the figure was 97 per cent.

It also scored highly in the trust’s monthly Staff and Patient Experience and Quality Standards panels (SPEQS).

They see senior nurses look at documentation, cleanliness and the experience of staff, patients and some visitors.

Board members said they received nothing but praise about patient care when they visited wards in November.

And local care commissioners reported similar praise when they visited two wards at North Tees hospital.

Non-executive director Steve Hall, who chairs the trust’s patient safety and quality standards committee, said: “I wrote to deputy chief executive Julie Gillon to say I felt humbled at the professionalism shown by all staff as well as their leadership and commitment.

“At this time of unprecedented pressure people are working very hard but are still totally committed to providing high quality compassionate care.”

Formal complaints have reduced year on year, added the trust, with 37 still to be addressed.

The number of pressure sores and falls in hospital by patients have also decreased.