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West Suffolk Hospital pledges action after criticism from the Royal College of Anaesthetists

West Suffolk Hospital’s leadership has promised action to address its working culture after a respected health body raised further concerns about how management pressure is affecting the wellbeing of staff.

The Royal College of Anaesthetists, a watchdog for surgery standards, has removed the Bury St Edmunds infirmary from its voluntary list of accredited hospitals after a review.

A spokesman said: "This decision was in part because of concerns about management culture and the wellbeing of staff members."

Mistakes made inside West Suffolk Hospital were last week heard in an inquest
Mistakes made inside West Suffolk Hospital were last week heard in an inquest

West Suffolk Hospital has been accused of suppressing whistleblowers. The Guardian reported a 'witch hunt' was carried out to find a member of staff who revealed errors by the trust had contributed to a woman's death. Bosses had asked for handwriting and fingerprint samples to identify who wrote a letter which tipped-off Susan Warby's husband.

In January, the trust was downgraded from 'outstanding' to 'requires improvement' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The college's president Professor Ravi Mahajan wrote a letter to hospital chief Steve Dunn in July, asking for change. He also shared his findings with the CQC.

West Suffolk Hospital has lost its 'outstanding rating'
West Suffolk Hospital has lost its 'outstanding rating'

The college's accreditation scheme, which West Suffolk Hospital has now been taken off, engages anaesthesia departments in voluntary quality improvement. This is done by peer review against benchmarks.

The accreditation is voluntary and does not impact on West Suffolk Hospital's offering.

While an external review is being completed by NHS England, the trust has committed to making improvements to regain the accreditation. Leaders are also working on an improvement plan ahead of its next CQC inspection, which includes further work to boost staff engagement.

"We have done extensive work this year to act on feedback."

A spokesperson for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Ensuring our colleagues work in a supportive, safe environment is good for our staff and means better patient care, which is why we have done extensive work this year to act on feedback about our working culture, including taking action to address the concerns raised by the Royal College of Anaesthetists.”

A rapid review of the hospital, ordered by the government in January, has been put back to December because of the coronavirus crisis.

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