MP vows to keep tabs onchildrens’ hospital row


Health Correspondent

Talks are due to take place today to address a catalogue of failings at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart (Lab, Edgbaston) is meeting Health Minister for the West Midlands, Dawn Primarolo, to make sure the Government keeps close tabs on a new major inquiry launched into the shamed hospital.

As a Foundation Trust, the Children’s Hospital is now semi-independent and controlled by overseeing body Monitor and not the Government even though it is an NHS organisation.

Monitor has pledged to work closely with England’s healthcare watchdog, The Healthcare Commission, which is carrying out an independent inquiry into services at the hospital, following a request from the Health Secretary.

Mrs Stuart said: “This meeting is to ensure that health ministers and Health Secretary Alan Johnson are up to speed and keep tabs with Monitor on all the findings and what they intend to do.

“The report already produced by the Birmingham Primary Care Trusts has to be taken seriously, but I feel the hospital can put things right and restore confidence by acting swiftly. The Children’s Hospital has really good doctors and nurses and there is no evidence that any child has received inadequate care, but this report shows that there are some real management and governance failures.”

An NHS report by Birmingham PCTs, which are commissioners of the hospital trust, found there were issues over management, long waiting lists made worse by bed shortages, incidents not being reported and emergency patients being sent to hospitals as far away as Leeds due to no theatre radiologist on site.

Coun Deirdre Alden, chairman of Birmingham’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said members would be monitoring progress made by the children’s hospital in coming months.

“The hospital is a much loved and respected Birmingham institution so there is understandable shock in the city at this news,” said Coun Alden (Edgbaston, Con).

“I am pleased the Healthcare Commission will be examining the very serious concerns raised and believe an independent report is the only way to reassure patients and parents.

“I understand an action plan will be put in place by the trust to address each of the areas of concern.

The report was instigated by complaints from transplant consultants at Edgbaston’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital who said they had a lack of confidence in the children’s hospital managers and that seriously ill children were waiting longer than necessary for transplants.