Get North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust back on track or step aside and let someone else do the job, Alex tells Trust Chair after disappointing CQC report

Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham today called on the Chair of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to either focus on getting it back on track or step aside to let someone else do the job.

The call came after the Care Quality Commission downgraded the Trust from Good to Requires improvement following a recent unannounced inspection which focussed on the shortcomings of leadership at the Trust.

Responding to the report Alex said:

“I am in no doubt about the commitment of the staff who work across the North Tees NHS Trust to support local people and improve health outcomes in our area. However the recent CQC inspection report on North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation NHS Trust does make for disappointing reading, especially around the leadership element of the report.

“The Trust has consistently been regarded as well-led as a result of competent leadership and non-executives who constructively challenged the Board whilst backing innovative ideas. That its leadership is suddenly deemed as “requiring improvement” is worrying. I firmly believe that the instability resulting from the loss of four of the five non-Executive directors, people who served the Trust and our community diligently for many years, over the Chair Professor Bell’s ill-conceived plans for a joint Chief Executive of both North and South Tees Trusts has played a role in this rating.

“Whilst there are a few areas around the executive team that need tightening up – the real change has been at chair and non-executive level and that speaks for itself.

“I also have concerns that the independent review of the previous board members work by NHS England is yet to be published. When I met with the Regional Director of NHS England North East and Yorkshire I was informed it would be published sometime after the May local elections. We are still waiting for it with no rationale as to why it is taking so long. My fear is that the review might never see the light of day and lessons will be missed. I will continue to press for its publication – and will raise this with the Health Secretary if needed.  

“I’ve met with the Chief Executive and I’m pleased the Trust is already addressing the concerns raised in the report. Our area is fortunate to have an NHS Trust and workforce that has unswervingly supported local people and sought to tackle the health concerns our communities face.

“They need to be supported by a leadership that is stable and committed to the task.  This report shows that Professor Bell has taken his eye off the ball, perhaps as he has concentrated on the problems at South Tees. 

“He either needs to step up and provide the leadership needed at North Tees or he should resign or be removed.”