QA boss recognises flaws in handling of G5 ward closure

Ursula Ward, chief executive of the Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, at the new entrance to Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Ursula Ward, chief executive of the Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, at the new entrance to Queen Alexandra Hospital.
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THE boss of Portsmouth’s hospitals trust has admitted the closure of an end-of-life care ward could have been handled better.

Ursula Ward, chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said she acknowledges there were flaws in the consultation process leading up to the closure of G5 at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

Ms Ward also reassured the public the same mistakes would not be made again and the trust would consult properly in the future.

It comes in the wake of a damning report about G5, which criticised the hospital for its handling of the closure.

When asked if she had regrets over G5, Ms Ward said: ‘We acknowledge, having read the report in some depth, that clearly we could have engaged better and that is the plan moving forward.

‘We need to think through how we can engage with the right people in the community – that’s really important.’

But she added: ‘Genuinely, we were trying to improve care for patients nearing the end of their lives and their families.

‘It was never thought of as a major change to service provision.

‘We still feel we did engage with many partners.’

The G5 report, carried out by an independent panel, concluded that the ward should not be reopened.

But it made recommendations for the hospital trust to now follow – including improving their consultation process, monitoring the new mobile nurse team that replaced G5 and working with the primary care trusts, which pay for the services at QA, to develop a comprehensive end-of-life care plan.

Ms Ward said: ‘The recommendations were absolutely valid. What we need to do is really to monitor very, very closely and continually update the interested partners.

‘We’ve got absolute clarity about what we need to do now. It’s given us real focus across the system.’

Another issue raised in the report was the panel’s concerns about whether or not the new mobile nurse team – which consists of seven members of staff, only one of which is on duty at any time – is an improvement on G5 service.

But Ms Ward says the new team is working well, adding: ‘We are monitoring it closely. It continues to show high levels of patient satisfaction. There will be an ongoing scrutiny of the patient experience moving forward.’