A petition launched just a week ago – calling on the Secretary of State for Health to guarantee a ‘new beginning’ for Bath’s Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases – has already collected 1426 signatures.
It’s been organised by a former Governor at the hospital – known locally as the ‘Min’ – Professor George Odam and will ask Jeremy Hunt to find an alternative future for the hospital rather than a merger with the Royal United.
The following is a personal update on the situation from Professor Odam and in his own words.
‘Petitions need to be specific, focused and addressed to an MP or important person. I chose the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, and focused the petition on the current dilemma for The Min of how and with whom to merge. Here is the dilemma:
The Royal United Hospital (RUH) is Bath’s general hospital and has a very different rationale and brand from the Min, which is both specialist and national. As a patient of the RUH from time to time I have never been personally dissatisfied with my treatment nor that of my family over the years.
However in recent years the RUH had become ensnared in serious debt. It could not apply for the Foundation Trust status that the Min already has without addressing this deficit. Over a very short time it largely cleared the debt and so could apply. However in April 2013, before this could be approved, the Care Quality Commission made an unannounced inspection. The RUH failed badly on three of the five essential areas:
1. Standards of treating people with respect and involving them in their care;
2. Standards of providing care, treatment and support that meets people’s needs;
3. Standards of quality and suitability of management.
This contrasts grimly with the results from The Min, which was inspected by the same commission a few weeks previously, receiving highest commendation on all these areas. Indeed, support comments from patients of the RNHRD show clearly that the quality of care at the Min is of the highest standard.
Chasing finance before patient care is what landed Mid Staffs Hospital in such a dire mess. It makes no sense to merge an excellently functioning national specialist hospital with a failing local general one.
We need a solution used in other cities – Bristol and Plymouth for instance – where a new Foundation Trust is set up that allows participating hospitals to operate independently but to share common administration needs (which have been the biggest financial problem for The Min since it gained Foundation Status). This would mean a fresh management approach with an entirely new set of governors who, from the start, could be both proactively critical and supportive friends.
We set up this petition a week ago and already have over 1000 signatures. This why our petition to Jeremy Hunt M P, Secretary of State for Health calls for a new beginning. Support our petition at http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/saving-bath-s-royal-national-hospital-for-rheumatic-diseases
Bath is a great and historic city. It deserves the best in health care and The Min has provided this continually since 1741. It makes no sense to place it under the care of a poor quality and unsuitable management such as, according to the CQC, at the RUH at present. With vision in management and support from government for its national remit and research and the new commissioning Groups, we ar determined that The Min will continue, develop and flourish with the overwhelming support of its many thousands of patients.’
Meanwhile the Chief Executive at the R.U.H. Kirsty Matthews has recently given assurances that the Min is still in businesses and even launching new services. Her comments are noted in more detail elsewhere in the Virtual Museum.