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Minister of State for Health visits Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust

A health minister visited Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) today, to review the Trust's progress since entering special measures.

Ministerial Visit

Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Health, was accompanied on the visit by Robert Halfon MP (Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and MP for Harlow) and Dr Kathy McLean (NHS Improvement Executive Medical Director).

Ministerial Visit

Photograph: (left to right) Stephanie Lawton, Chief Operations Officer, Professor Nancy Fontaine, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, Robert Halfon, Philip Dunne and Andy Morris, Chief Medical Officer.

The minister also visited PAHT to meet staff in the Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit, hear about the innovative care being delivered for dementia patients and End of Life care on Lister Ward, and meet with some of the forty apprentices currently employed by the Trust. This follows last week's speech by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, where he launched a new nursing degree apprenticeship route, as part of the government's commitment to delivering 100,000 apprenticeships in the NHS by 2020.  

The Trust is supporting the delivery of a range of apprenticeship roles currently being created across the NHS - from pharmacy services assistants to associate ambulance practitioners, as well as in areas including IT, hospitality and facilities.

Philip Dunne, Minister of State for Health, said:

"Every patient rightly expects the best possible quality of care and services,which is why we introduced the CQC's rigorous inspection regime.

"I have been encouraged by the hard work that staff at the Trust have already put in since the CQC's report back in October. There remains a great deal of work to be done, so itis crucial that the Trustcontinues to work closely with regulators and takes advantage of the support available to put in place necessary improvements.

"When you look at Trusts elsewhere in the country that have already exited Special Measures, it's clear that this regime can fix long term problems - the NHS is making progress towards becoming safer, more compassionate and more transparent — with patients at the heart of all it does. I look forward to following the Trust's progress closely".

Phil Morley, Chief Executive, said:

"It was a wonderful opportunity to have the Minister of State for Health visiting The Princess Alexandra Hospital. It allowed us to show how we have responded to the CQC reports, and how committed we are to improving our services.

"Special measures are a chance for us to look for new, more efficient ways to work and make positive changes. I am confident that we will come out of special measures quickly, and in a better state than we have been in before. We have great, caring staff, who put our patients at the heart of everything they do. I know that with them, PAHT will only improve."

The health minister and Dr McLean also hosted a focus group with a range of hospital staff, which ranged from apprentices to consultants.

Apprentices who were invited to the focus group were encouraged to discuss their experience at PAHT.

The focus group ended with a discussion centred on the atmosphere and general attitude of staff after the report and all staff emphasised that they are increasingly dedicated to looking at this as an opportunity for positive change.

Mary Verlander, Talent for Care Manager (Bands 1-4) said:

"Many of our apprentices have gone on to gain permanent positions, and with our connection to Harlow College it has been an integral addition to our workforce to recruit and retain local people."

Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and MP for Harlow, said:

"I was delighted to welcome Philip Dunne to the Trust today and to show the minister the dedication and commitment of the hospital staff who, while acknowledging the problems the hospital faces, are doing everything possible to ensure that PAH provides a first class NHS to Harlow residents.

"As the Health Secretary said last week, we must do right by offering people from all backgrounds a route into working to deliver an NHS workforce fit for the future."