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Blithering Stakeholder News

Friday, 12 July 2019

Blithering Stakeholder News

All the latest BS news from the country’s most challenged health economy. In this edition we cover the progress of an IT project under the personal direction of Sir Trevor Longstay, plus an update on the hospital's financial improvement plan and exciting news from the patient experience programme

£26 million IT write-off ‘not my fault’ – Sir Trevor

Blithering Hospital has written off £26m after a major IT project went wrong. The hospital’s chief executive Sir Trevor Longstay took personal charge of the project to digitise patient records in 2016 and famously asked “How hard can it be to install a few computers?” before firing the project team.

After 18 months during which the project missed three completion deadlines and costs more than doubled, auditors finally advised the trust to write off the entire cost and abandon the programme.

Blithering Hospital spokesman Martin Plackard said: “Sir Trevor takes full and unequivocal responsibility in principle for a few areas where success was less than fully achieved due to circumstances beyond our control,” but pointed out that not all of the investment had gone to waste. The server racks had been “strategically redeployed” in the laundry for storing bed linen and the purpose-built computer room had played a vital part in the hospital’s winter management plan, relieving the pressure on corridors and waiting areas, Plackard said.

Defending Sir Trevor’s spotless record of achievement, Plackard said: “He was badly let down by suppliers, the original project team, his predecessor, the director of finance and the non-executive director for quality, both of whom departed earlier this year. And because the original project specification was signed off in 2006, technology had moved on to some extent by the time the project team was in place.”

Plackard said a “never again inquiry” led by Blithering’s clinical information officer Dr David Rummage was underway to share learning points from the project. The inquiry is part of an ongoing commitment to dispel what Plackard called “a culture of analogue” at the hospital. Dr Rummage’s report is expected in 2023.

Cancer Lotto can’t be used to tackle deficit  

Blithering Hospital has been told that it cannot balance the books by selling tickets in a lottery where patients can win a chance of earlier slots for operations. The Cancer Lotto scheme proposed by interim finance director Steven Gant was one of several designed to close the £78m hole in the hospital’s accounts and enable it to qualify for a bonus from national bodies for exceeding its financial targets. This is the third time NHS auditors and regulators have rejected Blithering’s plans to “manage down” its deficit as part of its Innovation in Finance (IF) quality improvement programme.

Last year Blithering attempted to show a £450m gain by selling the hospital to a shell company and leasing it back to itself. Earlier this year it formed the Friends of Blithering charitable trust as a holding company where it attempted to represent the represent the deficit as a “shortfall in donations”.  

“Naturally we’re very disappointed, but I plan to keep trying,” said Mr Gant. “Otherwise the only thing left to do will be to cut costs, and I’m just not prepared to do that.”

NHS Improvement denied that its bonus scheme for trusts that go above and beyond the call of credibility encouraged fiddling and gaming the system. “On the contrary, it is a fair way to reward the wealthiest trusts and those with the most creative finance departments while encouraging those that rely on unimaginative accounting practices to up their game,” said a spokesman for the regulator.

How was it for you?

NHS Blithering is to introduce a replacement for the Friends and Family Test, head of meaningful feedback Martin Plackard announced this week. The new scheme to measure patient satisfaction will be rolled out this summer following a two year consultation and extensive trials.

Described as “the biggest investment we’ve ever made in making our services look as good as they deserve to be”, the new scheme will ask patients “How was it for you?” They will be able to respond by choosing from a selection of smiley faces in different shades of green with options ranging from “I’m in heaven” to “I’ve never felt so good”.

Artwork for the scheme was co-produced with a local primary school, including hard-hitting posters showing a collapsing hospital and the slogan “Use it or lose it” to prompt patients to give honest feedback.

“To say I’m excited about this scheme would be an understatement,” said Plackard at a launch event opened by Mayor of Blithering and district council chief Alan Spume who gave an impassioned speech about potholes and budget cuts.

News editor: Julian Patterson


Anonymous says:
Jul 12, 2019 04:05 PM

I have a vision of selling lottery scratchcards where the prizes are a number of different treatment options – for example, an operation to remove gallstones, or kidney stones, or a triple bypass, or a year’s supply of anticoagulant medication or even a thrombectomy these are just examples, you could include a length of stay in a hospital for a procedure of your choice, or immediate access to your GP at any time of day or night, or a wristband pass giving instant attention in A&E….the options are infinitely variable. Almost every ticket sold would have a prize – so it would be genuinely free at the point of access, well, except for the “donation” to the local health economy by purchasing the card in the first place.

The point of the prizes would be to encourage the inter-patient market – not unlike the market for Panini stickers - the chances of getting the treatment you actually needed as a prize would be quite low, but there would almost certainly be someone else in the local area (or possibly wider afield) who had actually got as a prize the treatment you needed, and who might even want the treatment you had won as a prize. It would be possible to “trade” prizes with anyone – there could well be a chain of people with various conditions that would want to “swap” between themselves to get the right treatment. It would also be possible to trade them on ebay, or facebook marketplace, or gumtree………you could, of course save the prize up in case you needed it in the future, but there would be a time limit. People would have to decide whether they wanted to have their dense stroke now, or risk wasting the prize.…..

The prizes would have a notional tariff value, based on current HRGs and would be portable across STP areas (within limits)

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jul 12, 2019 07:09 PM

There's a job for you in Blithering. Steve Gant awaits your call...