'Whistleblowing' GPs raise concerns over hospital care

A 'whistleblowing' letter from a group of GPs has caused their MP to question the standard of care provided at the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Suffolk.

Speaking at a Westminster debate on care of the elderly in the NHS last week, Dr Theresa Coffey, the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said she had seen a letter from local GPs concerned about local hospital services.

A group of GPs from the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area, had written the letter expressing their concerns about the care their patients were receiving from the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Coffey said that the foundation trust had failed its second inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). A third inspection had taken place and although the outcome was unknown, Dr Coffey said she 'not heard positive vibes so far'.

The GPs' letter said: ‘As a group of concerned GPs we have been forced to pursue this whistleblowing option, because we are concerned that our new GP consortium ‘HealthEast’ may fail to be successful due to the failings of our main, acute provider the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

‘HealthEast will be depending on the trust to provide the acute care for most of our patients and we have lost confidence in the ability of its leadership to correct its current failings. Please act quickly before we have yet another Mid Staffs on our hands.'

Dr Coffey said the letter ended: ‘We apologise once again for having to take this whistleblowing option, but we need you to put pressure on appropriate organisations to put the issues right before our patients suffer.’

Dr Coffey said the chairman of the hospital trust should 'consider his position'.

'I appreciate that the financial risk at the hospital is low, and that that may reflect good financial governance, but patient care is key. The chairman has provided useful leadership, but after two failed care inspections and with the possibility of a third it is time for him to step aside and allow new leadership to come forward,' Dr Coffey said.

A DoH spokesman said: 'Substandard care in the NHS will not be tolerated. We expect the management team at James Paget to take the necessary steps to urgently improve their services for their patients in light of the serious concerns raised by Monitor and the CQC.'

Following the criticism, John Hemming, chairman of the James Paget University Hospitals announced his resignation.

Mr Hemming said: ‘I am standing down as chairman as I am seen politically as a hindrance to improving patient care for the vulnerable and elderly, which is unacceptable to me.' 

Earlier this week the James Paget foundation trust hit out against comparisons to the Mid Staffordshire hospital.  

Mr Hemming said ‘This is a scandalous comparison because patient safety has never been questioned. Patients are safe in our hands.

‘This is a good hospital with excellent care and dedicated staff. We want to prove that to any doubters, including Dr Coffey who has declined numerous invitations from our management team to visit the James Paget,’ Mr Hemming added.

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