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Calls for sweeping improvements at Dudley's Russells Hall Hospital

Dudley | News | Published:

Sweeping changes have been demanded at Russells Hall Hospital following a top level investigation sparked by high death rates.

Staffing levels at Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, were branded inadequate and the way the hospital handled complaints from patients was also criticised.

Hospital bosses in Dudley have pledged to make improvements following the investigation by NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh.

But relatives of patients who have died at the hospital are upset that Russells Hall has escaped the fate of 11 other hospitals across the country, which have been placed under special measures, leading to external managers being drafted in to work with leadership teams.

The hospital will face a strict action plan of measures and bosses have been warned of a further visit by inspectors in the autumn.

The report found the death rate at the hospital trust was higher than the national standard between April 2011 and March last year, although it has since dipped below it.

The review was also critical of the trust for not acting to improve the quality of care after the high death rates were flagged up in previous years.

In the report, released yesterday, Sir Bruce described the hospital's workforce as committed, loyal and passionate.

Some wards, he said, were well managed and staff showed 'excellent clinical practice'.

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But he found areas of concern in staffing levels.

In the report, Sir Bruce said: "Staff levels and skill mix were not found to be adequate in a number of wards, most concerning were the registered nurse ratios in the two large general wards which were well below the levels recommended as nationally recognised good practice."

Paula Clark, the hospital trust chief executive, said she welcomed the report.

She said work had been ongoing to fill a gap in staffing levels with a £7.5million recruitment programme having been carried out over the past three years.

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She said this would bring 18 more nurses this financial year.

"I think we are happy to say we can always do better for patients and it is important that we learn and we are open to that," said Miss Clark.

Regional organiser for Unison Tracy Wood said there would be 50 more nurses recruited in September. The trust has also split the stroke rehabilitation and elderly care ward into two departments following concerns that the 70-bed ward was too large for one management team.

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