Hospitals 'show big improvement'
MAJOR improvements both medical and financial are being made at the local hospitals trust, according to the chief executive parachuted in last year to turn things around. West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) says it is clearing some of its debts, which s
MAJOR improvements both medical and financial are being made at the local hospitals trust, according to the chief executive parachuted in last year to turn things around.
West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) says it is clearing some of its debts, which stood at £11 million last year, by paying off a chunk of the deficit with the £2.5 million surplus with which it ended the financial year.
Chief executive Jan Filochowski said the surplus has been achieved by sticking to a budget, working more efficiently, by making savings and generating extra income by completing more work.
Speaking at a meeting last week, he said that the trust was achieving targets it had failed to hit in the past which had resulted in hefty financial penalties. He estimated that the trust would be debt free in about three years' time.
Mr Filochowski collected an award this week from hospital benchmarking company CHKS which gave the trust one of 40 Top Hospitals awards following an assessment of about 150 trusts.
He said the improvements are so greatt that he fully expected the trust's "double weak" rating from the Healthcare Commission to become a "double fair" when it made its announcement for this year.
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He added: "As I have stated before, when I first looked at the Healthcare Commission ratings on my arrival in November, it seemed that we had already failed for this year. I am delighted to say that because of enormous, consistent improvements and huge efforts by our staff, I have been proved wrong. The 2007/08 year finished in March and we have hit nearly every target, thanks to a quite exceptional performance in the last six months."
Accident and Emergency waiting times are down and for the last six months 98 per cent or more of patients have been seen within four hours.
And according to Mr Filochowski, the trust has also gone from being one of the worst-performing trusts in the country for C.diff infections to one of the best. Infections have reduced by 80 per cent since November, from around 80 cases in a month to an average of 12 cases a month, with only nine cases in March.
MRSA cases are also down with 15 in the last six months and Mr Filochowski attributed the decline to the reinforcement of control measures, limitation of antibiotics which reduce immunity, isolation and increased awareness. For example, staff have been wearing badges asking their patients to check if they have washed their hands.
Mr Filochowski also said the trust had met the national target of seeing everyone from referral to treatment within 18 weeks, which looked impossible to achieve a few months ago.
Provisional figures show that by the end of March it had treated 90 per cent of out-patients and 85 per cent of admitted patients within 18 weeks, compared to 70 per cent and 30 per cent at the end of 2007.
Mr Filochowski added that staff had been working to carry out procedures at the weekends to clear the backlog of cases.
He then went on to speak about the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health which was published in March and showed that the trust was providing one of the safest maternity services in the country.
He emphasised that mortality rates at Watford General Hospital were among the lowest in the country - fewer than one death per 1,000 births compared to an average of one in 300 - and said that women were keen to give birth there.