IT’S been another tough year for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust with yet another change of management at the top, long waits for patients – and ambulances – and still no transport solution in sight for Redditch patients travelling to and from Worcester.
All this plus the Trust’s multi-million pound debt mountain, winter pressures – experts say nationally there’s been no let-up all year round – and the trickle release of the £29million promised to the Trust by central government.
Back in March we told how Greenlands mum Naomi Childs had to pay £50 for a taxi home from Worcestershire Royal after her seven month old baby Charlie fell ill.
In May Shelley Millward told us her story of waiting 17 hours in the corridors of the Royal before finally being admitted to a ward.
She said: “When we got to the Royal it was utter chaos.
I was in a corridor and it was full of patients and old people all on trolleys.
“My ambulance had to go off so I was left on their trolley and we were being moved back and forth in and out of A&E.
“The staff must have been under so much stress and this doctor kept on apologising to us.”
The following month the Trust was diverting ambulances from the DY10 and DY11 postcodes in Kidderminster to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to ease pressure on the Royal.
However for many patients matters did not improve with 84-year-old Redditch woman Margaret Yahya spending an entire night on a trolley at the Royal waiting for a bed.
She swore she’d never go back there again.
By November Trust the had been offered, and had accepted, help from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue after it offered to take patients home from hospital and make sure they were comfortable and safe.
The year ended with the Trust once again buckling down ready for a new season of winter pressures.
At the top, the longed-for stability in senior management failed to materialise.
The chair of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Caragh Merrick, resigned in spring after just 20 months in the job.
She was replaced by health management expert Sir David Nicholson, who had been heavily criticised in Mid Staffs hospital scandal in 2005 but who had spent the last four years working in healthcare in 15 different countries.
Ms Merrick was soon followed by chief executive Michelle McKay, who tendered her resignation in August and left in December.
Australian Ms McKay, a former nurse, had been a breath of fresh air at the Trust and was widely regarded as ushering in a new era.
On arrival she’d said she was in ‘for the long haul’ but 21 month later she too was gone, heading back to Oz after being offered a leading role with Top End Health Services, an integrated health service covering half of the Northern Territory of Australia.
She has been replaced by Matthew Hopkins a man described by Sir David as ‘a highly experienced NHS leader with a strong track record of delivering significant improvements in quality and safety of patient care.’
Also joining the board in 2018 was top health chief Dame Julie Moore.
The former chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, she had at one stage made overtures to bring Redditch’s Alex Hospital into the UHB fold, efforts which had been rebuffed by WAHT.
She joined as an associate non-executive director and her appointment was seen as a positive step by the Trust.