‘I hope the NHS learns from all its mistakes’

FUTURE  Queen Alexandra Hospital.
FUTURE Queen Alexandra Hospital.
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A COUNCILLOR who campaigned against the closure of a ward for dying patients says she hopes lessons have been learned at Queen Alexandra Hospital in the wake of a damning report.

While investigators concluded that the G5 ward should not be reopened, they criticised hospital officials for their handling of its closure.

Cllr Lynne Stagg – who referred the closure to the Secretary of State for Health because she felt the public hadn’t been consulted enough – hopes the same mistakes won’t be repeated in the future.

Last week’s report, carried out by an independent panel, said there had been ‘flaws’ in the hospital trust’s consultation process.

The former chairwoman of the city council’s health overview and scrutiny panel said: ‘I thought closing the ward was wrong and 10,000 people who signed the petition to get it reinstated did as well. The report now confirms this. This was a substantial change to a service and the hospital should have consulted the panel about it.’ She added: ‘I’m disappointed the ward cannot be reopened now, and I still can’t understand why you need to get rid of something that was working.

‘I just hope the hospital trust will not make the same mistake in the future and that lessons have been learnt.’

Cllr Stagg also supported the report’s recommendations that the new mobile nurse service – which replaced G5 – needs to be reviewed and monitored.

She said: ‘We need to know if end-of-life care has improved or deteriorated. Personally I don’t see how it can have improved as they just have one team of nurses now and one person on duty at a time.’

Cllr Stagg received a letter from the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on Friday about G5.

In it Mr Lansley said he acknowledged Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had not carried out a formal public consultation, and had made insufficient effort to involve local groups and organisations – or even to inform them of the decision and explain clearly the rationale for closing G5.

He also said he endorsed the independent panel’s recommendations – including that the new mobile nurse service is robustly reviewed and monitored, and the hospital improves its public and patient involvement.

In conclusion, Mr Lansley said: ‘On balance, and after careful consideration and full analysis of the arguments raised by your scrutiny panel and the [independent panel’s] detailed report on this matter, I am satisfied changes to G5 in the context of the recommendations set down by the [independent panel] are in the interests of the local health service and health service users.’