The leader of Gateshead Council has defended the “absolutely fantastic” care in Newcastle’s hospitals despite a recent damning report and downgrading of the hospital trust by a health watchdog.
The Care and Quality Commission (CQC) recently downgraded Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’ following inspections between June and September last year. The findings were damning, ranging from reports of “bullying, intimidating and punishing staff” who speak out on safety concerns at Freeman’s cardiothoracic department to “significant shortfalls” in the number of medical staff at the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s (RVI) maternity unit.
The CQC also rated the leadership within the trust as “inadequate”, with reports that staff complained of invisible senior management and a culture of favouritism and nepotism.
However, leader of Gateshead Council and Deckham councillor Martin Gannon came out in defence of the “fantastic” service and care he says the Trust provides and said the CQC’s report “is not my experience”.
Martin Gannon: “I saw the headlines in the Chronicle and Journal this week, the front pages about the results of the CQC inspections, that is not my experience with Newcastle Foundation Trust. When I go there, you are tripping over volunteers, ‘excuse me, sir, are you lost’. The level of service in that trust is absolutely fantastic as it is in all our institutions, long may it continue.”
Outside the meeting, when asked to comment further, Martin Gannon continued: “The level of customer care is exceptional. It’s a criticism of the system.
“Local authorities, hospitals, and all local bodies should be subject to inspections for scrutiny and improvement but just putting things down to one-word judgements is not reflective of the reality.”
Sir James Mackey, the trust’s chief executive, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service on 24 January that staff felt “embarrassed” by the recent CQC report and went on to say the issues highlighted in the report were being dealt with “decisively” now.