Oral Question: Hospitals in Special Measures

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John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): What progress his Department has made on improving the performance of hospitals in special measures. [904261]

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): Trusts put into special measures have recruited 1,363 more doctors and 4,190 more nurses, with one estimate saying that this has reduced mortality rates by up to 450 lives a year.

John Stevenson: In the past six years, the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has had four chief executives, an acquisition that is going nowhere and a so-called success regime that is reporting later than intended. There are clearly tough decisions to be made in the north Cumbria health economy, and the sooner they are made, the better. Will the Secretary of State undertake to ensure that the recommendations of the success regime are implemented in full and in a timely manner?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for his persistent campaigning on behalf of his local trust. He is right that there are big issues there. He is also right generally that the NHS has too rapid a turnover of chief executives. There is a new one, Stephen Eames, who is one of the top-rate NHS chief executives. The Care Quality Commission says that things are improving and mortality rates are going down. I will support my hon. Friend in every way I can to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): As the Manor hospital is in special measures, Walsall mothers-to-be are being denied the right to choose to have their babies at that hospital. Will the Secretary of State confirm that there are safe staffing levels at the Manor and at other hospitals?

Mr Hunt: What I can tell the hon. Lady is that we have 83 more doctors and 426 more nurses at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust than we did in May 2010. The trust has a quality improvement plan, and it has had an improvement director since February.

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