Probe into "persistent failure" to meet waiting times targets at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust (From The Northern Echo)
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Probe into "persistent failure" to meet waiting times targets at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust
THE NHS regulator, Monitor, has launched an investigation into why patients are waiting too long for treatment at a North-East hospital trust.
Monitor said it is concerned that a "persistent failure" by the Middlesbrough-based the South Tees Hospitals Trust to meet waiting list targets, coupled with an increase in hospital infections and 'never events' (incidents which are so serious they should never happen), "may signal wider problems in the way the trust is run".
The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust runs The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, The Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and six community hospitals across Teesside, Hambleton and Richmondshire.
Monitor said the Trust has failed to meet the national 18 week referral to treatment time target for three quarters in the past 12 months.
The regulator has therefore opened a formal investigation into whether the trust has breached its licence to provide healthcare services.
Robert Davidson, Northern regional director for Monitor, said: "Patients rightly expect the highest possible standards of care from their local hospital. We've got concerns that this isn't always happening at South Tees and that's why we have launched this investigation."
A spokesman for Monitor added: "No decision has been taken about whether further regulatory action is required and an announcement about the outcome of the investigation will be made in due course."
Stockton South Conservative MP James Wharton said: "It is a good thing that Monitor is acting to get to the bottom of unacceptably long waiting times, including at James Cook which serves many of my constituents.
"We will need to see what the result of this process is but clearly something is not as it should be and the sooner this is resolved and a proper service provided to patients the better."
Professor Tricia Hart, chief executive of the South Tees Trust said: "Staff know that we have a 20-year culture of focussing on openness and service improvement and looking at how patient safety and the overall patient experience can be continually improved upon.
"We should welcome this external scrutiny as another opportunity to, once again, hold up a mirror to our organisation and, if lessons are identified and can be learned, we will make those changes to achieve our vision of being not only the safest trust across the North-East but the safest in the country."
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