Big report: KGH outlines five-year plan

Kettering General Hospital chief executive David Sissling
Kettering General Hospital chief executive David Sissling

A five-year plan being drawn up by Kettering General Hospital bosses will be based around retaining vital services including maternity and A&E at the Rothwell Road site.

In recent years concerns have been raised that the hospital could lose some departments to larger regional locations, as outlined in the defunct Healthier Together review.

But bosses reporting to the hospital’s board of directors have said their aim is to ensure that A&E, maternity, paediatrics, acute medicine, general surgery and care of the elderly continue to be provided in Kettering.

The hospital’s NHS trust is one of 11 in England named by national regulators as part of the Challenged Health Economy Programme – where deficits for health and social care could escalate to a total of £275m in the next five years.

Healthcare bosses in the county say they will continue to offer all services at Kettering while formulating a plan to meet those challenges – with the hospital’s chief executive David Sissling saying keeping key services in Kettering is the basis on which the plans are made.

But Mr Sissling also told the Telegraph it was important the hospital’s plans allowed it to live within its means.

He added that plans included collaboration in areas including staffing arrangements and buying equipment between Kettering and Northampton general hospitals – although each would retain their own key services.

He said: “It’s not a question of a win-lose, it’s a win-win. This is a strategy which allows us to provide high-quality care to local people and, in some cases, to a broader population.

“Across Northamptonshire, if we procure materials together then we can get better prices from suppliers. That’s where collaboration is taking us. We also draw on the knowledge of our staff, we ask them to eliminate any waste and efficiency.

“Kettering General Hospital has no shortages of challenges and it would be wrong to pretend otherwise. But we can be reasonably ambitious for the future.”

Hospital chiefs also want to make the hospital a centre of excellence for cardiac and respiratory care and screening and care of the elderly.

Mr Sissling added: “I think if you visited in five years it would be much the same but I think there will be change in the way we deliver services. I think our site will have been improved and there will be changes in the way care is delivered – we will be much more involved in care off our site as well as on it.

“We will be much more engaged as an organisation which focuses on prevention as well as providing good treatment.”

The outline strategy has been delivered to health watchdog Monitor which will now take the plan to the next stage. A more detailed plan will be submitted in September – but KGH bosses will not be the ones to make a final decision on the plans.

Also at last month’s board of directors meeting, hospital chiefs revealed their A&E department was now the highest performing in the country in terms of four-hour waiting times.

Mr Sissling said: “The fact we are doing well in some of our main performance areas means we can look to the future with a good deal of confidence, because we are an organisation which is developing. It does give us foundations with which we can look to the future.”

How KGH is measuring up

Although performance in other areas has improved, Kettering General Hospital bosses are still struggling to balance the books. They are expecting to record a £6.4m deficit at the end of this financial year. For May, after just two months of the 2013-14 year, they have reported a deficit of £902,000 although this was within their target of £935,000. There is a savings plan in place.

In terms of infections, in 2011-12 there was just one recorded case of MRSA at KGH, and since then there have been none.

The latest threat to hospitals nationwide is C-difficile. This financial year, the hospital has been told it must not have any more than 28 cases, although it has set itself the lower target of 20 cases. There have been five cases in the first two months of the financial year. Hand sanitiser is used throughout the hospital although staff who deal with patients suffering from

C-diff are told to wash their hands more thoroughly.