Listen to the GPs – but let us see a joint effort at QA

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As you turn the pages of today’s News, you could be forgiven for believing we have two hospitals in this area, with similar names but vastly differing standards.

On our front page we carry the worrying news that three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)have written to the trust that runs QA hospital, all saying that they do not believe the current management is up to the job.

But flick to our letters pages and you will find two expressions of heartfelt gratitude for the help that QA workers gave our correspondents. So which is the more accurate version of events?

As with most of these things, the truth is a blend of the two.

The warnings expressed by the doctors’ groups are not to be taken lightly. The CCGs are led by doctors and as such are not political mouthpieces. Nor can one see any reason for mud-slinging – the concerns they raise are genuine and indeed echo themes, particularly the problems in casualty, that we have reported on frequently in the last 12 months. And, it must be added, like our letter writers they are careful to praise medical staff.

We need to make sure that the public debate avoids lazy cliches about fatcats, bureaucrats, and sacking the lot of them. As with any organisation, a hospital needs managers, in its case to make sure that medical staff can concentrate on what they do best – healing, curing and caring.

We do not want to see the hospital financially penalised for its performance, as that will only make the situation worse.

We need a definitive, structured, and – crucially – public and accountable plan from the top at QA, which sets tough but achievable targets. This plan can’t be produced by QA on its own – other organisations must have an input and take responsibility to help find the way forward. This could be local councils discussing how to reduce the amount QA spends on elderly patients, the so-called bed-blockers who have no residential home to go to, or it could be persuading people to go to walk-in centres rather than casualty. The list will go on and on.

The management at QA must be held to account, yes, but there are many areas that could help play a part. It’s too important to fail.

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