17:02 Thursday 10 January 2013

Watchdog pledges to get tough on care

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

Queens Hospital - Main Entrance and A+E Queens Hospital - Main Entrance and A+E

UNDER-PRESSURE Burton’s Queen’s Hospital is to come under the glare of a new healthcare watchdog to be launched in a desperate bid to save Staffordshire’s failing health system.

Healthcare Staffordshire will be given the power to enter any area of care across the county to investigate how care is being provided and gauge the views of patients, as it looks to arrest the slide of hospital performances.

The body has been assembled following well documented concerns at Staffordshire Hospitals, with crisis-hit Stafford Hospital a particular worry, and the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust as a whole facing an uncertain future.

The Stafford debacle has caused a knock-on effect at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital, which has enough difficulties of its own to contend with.

The eagerly anticipated Francis Report into the failings at Stafford Hospital is set to be released within weeks and is expected to have permutations for the way healthcare is provided throughout the country.

All publicly-funded health services, including hospitals, GPs and dentists, will come under scrutiny as will adult and children’s social services.

Robin Morrison, chairman of Engaging Communities Staffordshire (ECS), which will oversee the body, said: “The people of Staffordshire deserve a powerful voice, and that is exactly what we will give them.

“The problems at Stafford Hospital are well documented, and they will hit the headlines again when the Francis Report comes out this month or next month.

“No-one can guarantee that health and social care will always be perfect, but an independent body with real teeth – backed by tens of thousands of residents – goes a long way to safeguard service users and their loved ones.

“I would like every service user in Burton to make a New Year’s Resolution: to give feedback to local Healthwatch at least twice in 2013.”

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