Politician who lost her Redditch seat after being embroiled in an expenses scandal is to become chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is taking over at the city’s Queen Elizabeth hospital – and warned of a need to work with other trusts to relieve serious pressures.
The controversial politician, who lost her Redditch seat after being embroiled in an expenses scandal is to become chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust.
She resigned from being Home Secretary in 2009 after it emerged she had claimed expenses for pornographic films watched by her husband.
Ms Smith also came under fire for designating her sister’s house in London as her “main home”, allowing her to claim second home allowances on her Redditch family home.
She begins her new role in December, when she takes over from Sir Albert Bore, the leader of Birmingham City Council.
The £545 million superhospital has been hit by serious capacity problems.
In March, the Post revealed how bosses had been forced to open old wards in the crumbling hospital it replaced due to unprecedented A&E admissions.
Ms Smith said she believes the Trust needs to work closely with other hospitals and agencies to attempt to relieve some of the pressures on the Queen Elizabeth.
She said: “Sir Albert did a really brilliant job in moving the hospital and getting it settled in the new building.
“But now there are new challenges, which include continuing to find cost improvements.
“There is the work that needs to happen with neighbours, both health neighbours and others across Birmingham to deal with some of the problems that can’t be solved by one Trust alone.
“There’s a challenge of how the Queen Elizabeth works with other Trusts and the GPs and clinical commissioning groups both to reduce the pressure on A&E and to make sure people have places they can go to after they have been treated at the Queen Elizabeth.”
The hospital has experienced an increase in demand for services which managers believe is partly a result of publicity surrounding the new building, which has attracted some patients who may actually live closer to other hospitals.
Like many hospitals it has also faced difficulty discharging patients who no longer require the level of care it is designed to provide, due to a shortage of places in community hospitals or care services provided by local authorities.
Ms Smith added: “It is an immense honour to be the chair of a hospital which is clearly providing a fantastic service to patients, carers and their families, which is a regional leader and increasingly a national and international leader as well.
“I think the job of chair is firstly to be the champion of the community and patient, and also to make sure an excellent hospital doesn’t become complacent, particularly given the big challenges facing the NHS and the hospital at the moment. In particular, we need to find better ways to listen to and reflect the needs of patients.”
Meanwhile an MP accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of “rewarding failure” after he announced funding of £250 million to help hospital A&E departments cope with demand over winter – but revealed that the Queen Elizbaeth Hospital would be excluded.
The cash appeared to be targeted at hospitals which are currently failing to meet a government target of admitting, transferring or discharging at least 95 per cent of emergency patients within four hours of arrival.
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Good Hope and Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham as well as Solihull Hospital, dealt with 91.3 per cent of patients within the time limit in the week ending September 1, according to official figures.
The Trust received £9.8 million from a pot of £250 million distributed by the Department of Health this week.
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, which saw 92.7 per cent of major A&E patients within the time limit, received £4.2 million. But University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth in Edgbaston, dealt with 95.1 per cent of patients within four hours and was not included.
Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart (Lab) said: “It looks to me as if we are rewarding failure and I have raised this with the Health Secretary.”
The Queen Elizabeth boasts state-of-the-art facilities after it moved to its new home which cost £545 million to build in 2010, but the Birmingham Post revealed in March that it had been forced to re-open parts of the old hospital building dating back to the 1930s because of a shortage of beds. Currently, 48 beds in the old premises are still in use.
A Department for Health spokesman said: “Funding went to A&E departments that were judged to be most in need of it.
“Where trusts haven’t received any, it was because they were judged to be operating well.”