Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, visited ELFT on Friday 8 December as part of a whirlwind tour of East London meeting NHS staff. The theme of his visit was Patient Safety. It was an opportunity for Mr Hunt to hear directly from the Trust about the ways they are addressing safety and how they are measuring the impact of this.
The Secretary of Staff heard first from ELFT Patient Safety leads, Paul Gilluley, Interim Chief Medical Officer, Lorraine Sunduza, Interim Chief Nurse, and Andy Cruickshank, Interim Deputy Director of Nursing, who gave an overview of initiatives underway in the Trust to improve patient safety.They talked about the importance of drilling down and understanding the data collected, testing it, being curious and open minded about what it signifies.
Also present were 45 staff from different disciplines, specialities, locations who were able to highlight issues in their field of work. A service user came along to represent the voice of service users and a Trust Governor also attended. The Secretary of State said that he had met with over 50 groups of staff and ELFT was the first trust to automatically include service user representation which he thought was symbolic of the Trust's approach to patient care.
Staff raised issues about fragmentation in the commissioning of services, increasing demands on staff, additional responsibilities without other tasks and expectation being removed, and the need for greater resources to bring people home from hospital quicker.
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said:
“Mental health professionals come from across the country to learn from the work of ELFT and it was great to meet the staff behind such a successful and patient centred organisation.
“The trust overhauled their safety culture after a series of events and by doing so put patients and every member of staff - from cleaners to consultants - at the heart of their safety measures with results that have turned heads across the NHS.”
Mr Hunt said that patient safety was a subject close to his heart. He has a strong interest in ensuring that staff feel able to speak up when they have made a mistake without fearing the response of managers. He said mistakes are human, and that it was how you communicated following these that was key.
Mr Hunt also took time to thank all staff for their hard work under increasing pressure as demand for services increased.
Mr Hunt also visited Homerton University NHS Trust and Queen’s Hospital in Romford to join similar staff forums to discuss the issues affecting their work.