‘Merger will get King’s Mill back on track’ - says interim chief executive of under-fire NHS trust

Kings Mill Hospital.

Kings Mill Hospital.

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The acting chief executive at King’s Mill says a take-over by a top-performing Nottingham health trust will allow the struggling hospital to offer the quality of service patients deserve.

It emerged today (Monday February 15) that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs Mansfield Community Hospital and Newark Hospital, has chosen ‘Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust as its preferred long-term partner’, following a damning watchdog inspection last year.

The Nottingham-based trust, which runs both Nottingham City Hospital and the Queen’s Medical Centre, was competing with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to take over the management of King’s Mill.

Speaking shortly after the announcement, Peter Herring, Interim Chief Executive of Sherwood Forest Hospitals said he was hopeful that the merger would lead to a ‘good’ rating the next time the trust is inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

He said: “We are incredibly pleased - the new relationship with the Nottingham trust will bring significant benefits to patients and in terms of clinical support.

“These are early days and we are in the process of establishing what is the most important support the trust can offer us as we work along our own improvement journey.

“This partnership will also offer us more stable leadership and greater employment opportunities for our staff.

“The most important thing initially was to identify who our preferred partner is, and there are still some regulatory and legal issues to work through.

“We want to make this happen as soon as we possibly can, but we are still some months away.

“I would say that since the CQC report last year, the team has started to make considerable improvements, and the feedback we get from patients at King’s Mill is that they get an excellent service.

“There are a few areas where we need to improve our staffing, so this move means we will be able to recruit to these areas.

“There are also areas of clinical expertise that the Nottingham trust will be bringing in - areas that we are currently not strong in - that will contribute towards the improvement path that we have already started.

“We are hoping that the next time the CQC come to visit us, they will be able to rate us as ‘good’.”

Last year, the Chad revealed that King’s Mill was in a worse state than when it was first placed in special measures two years earlier.

Following a CQC inspection in 2015, it emerged Sherwood Forest Hospitals had failed to improve in all but one of the 18 targets set in 2013 - while the trust was performing significantly worse in many areas.

Nottingham University Hospitals was competing with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to take over the management of King’s Mill.

A spokesman said the decision was based on detailed evaluation of proposals from both Nottingham and Derby trusts, focusing on the best way to rapidly improve quality at under-fire King’s Mill, in Sutton.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals also considered safety and sustainability of services, benefits to staffing; leadership capacity and financial impact.

Mr Herring added: “We believe this partnership will give us the best opportunity to move forward with a fresh start to improve and deliver the highest quality services in a sustainable way for our patients.

“We look forward to working with Nottingham University Hospitals and creating a new larger, combined organisation with them.

“Ahead of a formal transaction to join the two trusts, the team at Nottingham University Hospitals will give us some immediate support to help us continue to make clinical improvements.

“In the medium term, the partnership will bring us a stable leadership team and improvements in governance.

“In the longer term, the new organisation will bring stronger opportunities for clinically and financially sustainable services for our local communities.

“It will also help with the recruitment and retention of staff, and will enable us to provide better hospital services and regional specialist services for local people.

“We would like to thank Derby Teaching Hospitals for the hard work they put into developing their very credible proposal. We look forward to continuing to work together with them and other health and social care partners to deliver safe, high quality care for our local communities.”

Responding to the announcement, a spokesperson for NHS Improvement, said: “Today’s announcement is good news for patients. The interim leadership at Sherwood has made improvements recently and we welcome the hard work put in by staff at all levels.

“This partnership will help the trust continue to make necessary improvements and become sustainable in the long-term, providing the quality of care that local people expect.”