Liberal Vannin leader Kate Beecroft MHK has launched a stinging attack on the former minister for health, David Anderson, after a damning report into Noble’s Hospital criticised weak management and a ‘culture of blame’.
Mrs Beecroft, who was one of the first to make public concerns over patient safety at Noble’s, said she felt the report had vindicated her party’s stance – and justified the removal of David Anderson as minister.
She added: ‘I don’t know how he can hold his head up high after what has been shown to be the situation on his watch. The report, while it does not make for pleasant reading, clearly vindicates our stance on Noble’s over the last few years.’
Mrs Beecroft suggested that Mr Anderson should have brought in independent inspectors two years ago when concerns were first raised by consultants.
She also hit out at the way three senior managers in the health department had all taken early retirement just days before the publication of the report by the West Midlands Quality Review Service.
‘They have been rewarded for failure,’ she claimed.
Asked whether the three – chief executive David Killip, his deputy Lesley Keenan and director of healthcare delivery Norman McGregor Edwards – had indeed been ‘rewarded for failure’, Chief Minister Allan Bell told the Examiner: ‘I suppose you could look at it that way.’
But he added: ‘We should not focus on what happened in the past but look at rebuilding confidence in the future with new structures and new strategies going forward.’
Mr Bell said it had been clear there were problems at Noble’s and he had asked the West Midlands’ inspectors to produce a ‘warts and all’ report.
He said that a new management structure was being put in place. ‘There is no way we are shying away from the problems. But we now have to look to the future.’
In the Budget, it was announced £2.1m was being set aside in a new Health Inspection Fund specifically to deal with the problems highlighted by the report. Asked if that would be enough, Mr Bell said: ‘That’s the anticipated cost – clearly it will depend on the extent of problems identified. Not all issues are about resources. But if we need further funds it will have to be reviewed.’
He said the island faced a real challenge on how to fund quality health services in the future – and this may include radical options such as the wider use of private health medicine.
‘A private hospital might complement what we are doing in the NHS,’ he said.
Mrs Beecroft has given a warm welcome to the new Minister of Health, Howard Quayle MHK.
She congratulated him for publishing the inspectors’ report in full.
She said: ‘I have discussed the report with Howard and he is genuinely committed to making the health service something that we can all have confidence in and be proud of.
‘He has given a promise to be open and honest about any failings and to work to correct these as soon as is possible.
‘There are many problem areas and Howard has a difficult road ahead of him but, whilst he stays true to his stated commitments, LibVan will support and help him and his new management team whenever and wherever we can.
‘We have always maintained that it has been the management that have been the problem and that the staff should not be blamed and it seems that the independent review body agree.
‘They have repeated their praise of “caring and committed staff” throughout the report.’