‘Downsizing the QEII was a mistake’: Reaction after Welwyn Garden City hospital graded inadequate
- Credit: Alan Davies
Local health chiefs have come under fire after Welwyn Garden City’s New QEII Hospital was graded inadequate.
The Care Quality Commission also judged Lister Hospital as ‘requires improvement’ in last week’s report, following which critics claimed downsizing the QEII despite widespread opposition in 2014 was a mistake.
A QEII worker told the WHT that she believed it has caused both hospitals to struggle, which has been reflected in the CQC ratings ever since.
“I think it’s sad the old QEII went down,” she said. “I understand the reasons behind it but I do believe doing away with the A&E was the wrong decision.”
Since the downsizing, the New QEII has been graded ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’, while Lister has been judged ‘requires improvement’ twice.
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But the East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for planning and funding of local healthcare, pointed to how the New QEII’s Urgent Care Centre treats twice as many patients daily as the old A&E did.
A spokeswoman said that A&E and maternity services – which were both centralised at Lister – were graded ‘good’, despite the backdrop of rising national demand.
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Waiting times for patients at the UCC, which is designed to treat minor problems, remain comparatively short and patients found staff caring, she added.
But Denis Hawes, 79, said: “I think it was a mistake to downgrade it – it’s not really a hospital anymore.
“It’s more a clinic that does some functions.”
However, Mr Hawes was among many residents to heap praise on the “fantastic staff” doing their best at both hospitals.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who is campaigning for healthcare services to be closer to the borough, said the QEII is not getting the focus it needs.
“I recently spoke to health bosses about my concerns and expect them to take urgent action to address the shortcomings,” he said.
But Labour councillor Max Holloway criticised Mr Shapps’ “meaningless slogans and empty promises”, adding: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the NHS is struggling.
“This is a Conservative government that has starved the service of resources while somehow expecting it to carry on as normal.”