NHS hospitals placed under expert control

JEREMY Hunt yesterday said he has put 11 NHS hospital trusts under external control following a damning report that highlighted higher than expected death rates at the institutions under their authority.

Amid fiery exchanges in the House of Commons, Hunt also accused Andy Burnham – his Labour opposite number and a predecessor as health secretary – of covering up failings within the NHS. He said thousands of patients may have died as a result of these failings.

“The last government left the NHS with a system that covered up weak hospital leadership,” Hunt said. “They also failed to prioritise compassionate care. The system’s reputation mattered more than individual patients, targets mattered more than people.”

Burnham said the findings related to 2011 and 2012, when the coalition was in power.

In February Professor Sir Bruce Keogh was commissioned to investigate 14 hospital trusts with poor survival rates following the scandal of poor care at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.

He found none were providing “consistently high quality care to patients”. Failings included nurse shortages and poor staff morale, with some exhausted doctors working for 12 days straight.

Hospital trusts affected in the south east include Buckinghamshire, Basildon and Thurrock, and Medway.