Saturday, October 27, 2007

The plot thickens...

On Monday, myself and KCC Deputy Leader Alex King visited Pembury and Kent & Sussex Hospitals. We wanted to see at first hand whether the improvements claimed by Steve Phoenix, West Kent PCT Chief Executive and Glenn Douglas, new Chief Executive of the Hospital Trust has actually been made.

It was important for us to speak directly to staff, and to have an "access all areas" walkabout, having read the Healthcare Commission report and seen overcrowded wards, beds too close, dirty showers and lack of washing facilities.

And what a difference! The six beds crowded into a bay window are now three, with at least three or four feet between each. Brand new wall-mounted wash basins abound, and every time we walked in or out of a ward we were made to clean our hands with alcohol gel. I asked to see the much pictured Ward 14a, which is now in mid-redecoration and refurbishment.

More interesting was the shower which, in the Healthcare Commission report was pictured covered in dirt and mould. We were told by nurses that, since there was a fear that older patients might trip over the lip of the shower tray, it had been decommissioned and at the time of the report, there was a sign "Shower Decommissioned - Storage Room Only" on the door. According to the staff, the inspection team ignored this and took photos anyway.

Of most concern was that staff told us about the update report from the Commission, which the hospital were sent a draft of a few months ago. On our return to County Hall, we phoned the Commission to ask for either a draft or final copy of this new report. Their answer?

"There is no such report, either in draft or final version. It doesn't exist."

The plot thickens...

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