Greater Manchester Hospital Initiates Food Bank Service

The emergency department of a Greater Manchester hospital is attempting to help out with malnutrition.

As economic difficulties continue to be felt across the country, Tameside hospital in Greater Manchester will distribute food boxes discreetly to patients suffering from a risk of malnourishment.

The institution is also planning to open a permanent food bank collection centre inside the hospital, thus assisting with the nutrition of both patient and local residents.

This latest news came on the day in which the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced his intention to locate job advisors within food banks.

Managers at the hospital stated that the decision had been made due to the concern of both doctors and nurses working within the Tameside environment.

As the issue is set to become an increasing problem, staff have even been trained in order to recognise symptoms of malnutrition among patients.

This is not the first recent example of a hospital in Britain chipping in with food contributions to needy people.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham previously opened a food and clothing bank, while the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle began offering parcels to parents using its neonatal care unit recently.

Aside from offering food parcels, it is also intended for the hospital to collect food in order to distribute it in the surrounding region.

Organisers hope that this will prevent patients who have been recently discharged from returning a a few days later due to nutrition-related reasons.

In order to carry out this particular scheme, the hospital is working closely with the Trussell Trust.

This Christian charity has set up food banks all over the UK, particularly in areas of high deprivation.

The number of banks that the trust has become involved with has risen to 1,200 during the current calendar year.

It is planned that the Tameside hospital will ultimately have a central collection point attached to it scanteen.

This will enable staff, visitors and people in the local region to leave contributions.

Gwen Drain, the centre manager of the Tameside East food bank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network, said she was delighted by the hospital’s approach: “Today in Tameside there are families struggling to put food on the table. For people on low incomes, a sudden crisis – redundancy, benefit delay or even an unexpected bill – can mean going hungry. Every day parents skip meals to feed their children and people are forced to choose between paying the rent and eating.”

Malnutrition affects three million people in the UK and costs the NHS an estimated £5bn a year.

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Care Quality Commission Reprimands Sussex Hospital Over Emergency Department

An unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed that there are significant problems in a Sussex-based hospital.

The CQC visited Royal Sussex County Hospital and found that there are significant problems with the emergency department at the institution.

Overcrowding was a clear issue at the hospital, and there has been a notable lack of progress in addressing the concerns of inspectors.

Patient safety had been compromised at the hospital as patients were not assessed quickly enough, according to the Care Quality Commission.

Following its inspection of the facilities, the health regulator rated Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust to be “inadequate”.

The full inspection had been carried out back in June.

In its final report, the CQC suggested that overcrowding was so advanced at the Royal Sussex County Hospital that patients were frequently lined up on trolleys or wheelchairs when cubicles were full.

This issue had been initially identified in May of last year, but despite giving the hospital time to address the problem, there had been insufficient action in order to mitigate risks related to it.

According to figures acquired by the Care Quality Commission, just over 90 per cent of patients were seen within four hours according to the latest data available.

Although this may sound like a reasonable level of performance, it compares unfavourably to the national target of 95 per cent.

Inspectors reported that staffing numbers and the skillset among staff at the hospital were not supportive of a timely assessment operation of those arriving at the emergency department.

Furthermore, the Care Quality Commission noted that the trust in charge of the Royal Sussex institution had failed to comprehensively address recommendations from previous reports.

These included guidelines issued by the Emergency Care Intensive Support Team and a CQC compliance action created in May last year.

Commenting on the issue, the Brighton and Sussex chief executive, Matthew Kershaw, admitted that problems were apparent.

“We recognise the issues raised by the CQC regarding urgent and emergency care, and we are making significant changes to how we work across the hospital, and with partner organisations, that will help us make real improvements to how we care for our patients.”

Kershaw also stated that the trust had taken measures in order to address the situation.

“Specialist surgical and medical clinicians are now working alongside the emergency department team to ensure patients are seen by the right clinical teams earlier, which will lead to quicker assessment and treatment.

“We are also improving the way we provide tests, treatments and therapies for patients on our wards, which will help patients return home quicker, freeing up space for other patients who need to be admitted to a hospital bed. We have opened a ward at Princess Royal [University] Hospital to give us additional beds and more beds will become available soon on a new community ward in Newhaven,” Kershaw asserted.

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Monitor Report Outlines Dire Financial Position of NHS Trusts

A comprehensive financial report from the health regulator Monitor indicates that the NHS faces terminal financial difficulties.

NHS trusts in England managed to accumulate a collective deficit of nearly £1 billion in merely the first three months of the existing financial year.

According to regulators, this represents the worst financial position for the NHS in a generation.

Figures released by Monitor show that NHS Foundation Trusts had a deficit of £445 million for the surveyed period, while other NHS trusts racked up a £485 million deficit for the first three months of the year.

Although the overall picture can be considered alarming, the health regulator was particularly damning regarding the financial position of foundation trusts.

Monitor warned that this sector is “under massive pressure” and simply cannot continue in the same vein for much longer.

The report in question surveyed the financial health of 151 NHS foundation trusts, while Monitor sought the assistance of the Trust Development Authority (TDA) to cover 90 NHS trusts.

It is not merely the quantity of debt that is alarming for the health sector, but also the proportion of bodies suffering from financial difficulties and deficits.

Of 90 trusts in the TDA report, 72 ended the financial quarter in deficit, with 118 foundation trusts also in the red according to the health regulator.

This means that nearly 80 per cent of NHS trusts in England are currently running a deficit. Additionally, 75 per cent of the trusts that were in deficit are acute hospital or specialist trusts.

Although several reasons for the overspend were cited in the Monitor report, it is suggested that higher staff costs than expected and an over-reliance on expensive agency staff particularly contributed to the problems.

In addition, the report also reflects that foundation trusts were unable to meet several national waiting time targets.

Perhaps most critically, the A&E target for people to be seen within four hours was not met. Targets for routine operations and some cancer treatments also went by the wayside.

Commenting on what are unquestionably alarming figures for the health sector, Dr David Bennett, chief executive at Monitor, commented that real change is necessary in order to address the situation.

“Today’s figures reiterate that the sector is under massive pressure and must change to counter it. The NHS simply can no longer afford operationally and financially to operate in the way it has been and must act now to deliver the substantial efficiency gains required to ensure patients get the services they need,” Bennett opined.

However, Unite union national officer Barrie Brown suggested that efficiency savings were in fact the root cause of difficulties for the health sector. Brown instead asserted that increased spending and more extensive funding was required for the NHS to avoid a national emergency.

“The financial chickens are coming home to roost big time. This is what happens when you have growing demand for NHS services and then decide to impose £20 billion of so-called ‘efficiency savings’. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt needs to start banging the Cabinet table to get more funds in real terms from the Chancellor, George Osborne, otherwise the NHS will go into a financial meltdown,” Brown stated.

This latest deficit follows overspending of £820 million by NHS and foundation trusts over the last twelve months. But it seems likely that the deficit among the same organisations could ultimately top £2 billion for the existing financial year.

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