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Council intervenes at bug death hospitals

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Kent CC has stepped into the row over deaths from clostridium difficile bug in local hospitals with a raft of measures.

Crisis meeting quizzes NHS chiefs

The council’s cabinet meeting yesterday scrutinised chief executives of the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and West Kent Primary Trust about a shocking Healthcare Commission report.

The commission said that a "litany" of errors in infection control was the main cause of death for 90 patients at Maidstone, the Kent and Sussex and Pembury hospitals. It was definitely a contributing factor in the deaths of a further 124, and a probable factor in another 55.

Council leader Paul Carter (Con) said that the debate and questions centred around Kent "helping and supporting the rapid turnaround of nursing and medical care as well as the cleanliness and hygiene of the three hospitals".

The council offered:

  • a£5m loan

  • senior management help and councillors to sit on a new board of directors

  • to set up an independent hotline for patients to contact with complaints

Mr Carter said: “We strongly feel that money must be made immediately available from central government enabling the trust to recruit additional quality staff, as it is clear they have been understaffed particularly with nursing. Should this not be forthcoming we have offered a short term loan of£5 million to assist in rapid transformation of care".

Mr Carter said he was "particularly pleased" that Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust chair James Lee has resigned.

“We will do everything to help and support the trust to rebuild public confidence, and we want rapid assurance from senior management that the significant issues have already been acted upon.”

The two health managers apologised for poor patient care at the trust and welcomed offers of help from the county.

Borough's demands

Tubridge Wells BC was "distressed" to read the report on the two hospitals which are in its area, said leader Roy Bullock (Con).

"Hopefully that is in the past and we all have to work closely to continue with the improvements that have been put in place".

The council also wanted work to start on a new hospital at Pembury.

"The latter must be given the highest priority, from ourselves, as the determining planning authority for the application, to the Highways Agency, who at present are being obstructive in the processing of the application," said cllr Bullock.

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