Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

The problems at Treliske were laid bare this week in a concerning report by the Care Quality Commission that highlighted a long list of failures. The hospital has been rated as "inadequate" with surgery, maternity and gynaecology, end of life and outpatient services also rated as inadequate. As a result, we have seen the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust being placed into special measures.

When any organisation faces the sort challenging report delivered last week, we have to strike the right balance in our response. We must not ignore problems or make excuses for some of the failures highlighted. However, equally, we must be supportive of those who work there and must take care not to undermine morale among hard working medical staff. We all have tremendous respect for the doctors, nurses and other staff who show great commitment and dedication. We also recognise that, despite funding going up by some 25 percent since 2010, demand on NHS services has grown faster still with an extra 2 million operations carried out each and every year. That has placed pressure on hospitals and on those who work there.

So, we need to use this report as an opportunity to help put things right and to help them get back on their feet. To their credit, the senior management team and the Board at the RCHT have taken this head on and made clear that they will work to address the shortcomings. One of the consequences of going in to special measures is that there will be a new Improvement Director put in place alongside the Trust and these are people who have experience of turning around hospitals facing similar challenges. They might actually help the management team at RCHT get back on an even keel and get the whole operation back on its feet. In addition, strengthening some of the clinical management functions within the Trust will help.

We should also recognise that it was not all bad news. Locally, we have great work being done at St Michael’s Hospital, which is a national leader in breast surgery, and Camborne and Redruth Hospital which has a number of specialisms including stroke and prosthetics. The quality of services at St Michael's in Hayle were recognised and rated as good. At the same time, critical care and children and young people’s services have been rated as good.

Alongside the report, a review found poorly coordinated processes that meant the experience of people moving between hospitals, social care and their own homes was often not good enough. How we support people in need of adult social care is a growing dilemma, and creative thinking is needed. As more people live longer, more need help as they get older. Finding the right solutions is key to easing pressure on the NHS. The last Spring Budget provided an additional £2 billion to councils in England over the next three years to spend on adult social care services. £1 billion of this will be provided in 2017-18, ensuring that councils can take immediate action to fund care packages for more people, support social care providers, and relieve pressure on the NHS. Despite the challenges, a recent study by the Commonwealth Foundation concluded that our NHS was the best in the world.