The new chief executive of the Wye Valley NHS Trust, Richard Beeken, appeared before a committee of councillors recently. The trust provides acute and community health services across Herefordshire and runs the County Hospital
He was quizzed by members of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for over an hour.
Following the public accountability session the chairman of the committee, Councillor Carl Attwood, expressed confidence in Mr Beeken. He said:
“Richard Beeken was candid and open with the committee. He did not shy away from describing the challenges the trust faces and he gave members confidence both in his ability to tackle those challenges and in his commitment to ensuring local people were kept informed.”
“We were pleased to hear that the trust has been successful in recruiting to some key posts recently though we were concerned to hear that there are 20 vacancies currently in the trust. It was interesting to hear that nurses are being recruited from across Europe because of the difficulty of recruiting more locally. We will be keeping a close eye on the recruitment and retention of health staff locally.”
Car parking at the County Hospital was discussed and councillors were concerned about the high cost of parking. Councillor Attwood said:
“The committee accepts that parking charges are controlled by Mercia Healthcare, the owner of the site under the Private Finance Initiative and that Wye Valley Trust isn’t able to set the charges. We were pleased to hear that the Mercia Healthcare had chosen not to raise the cost of parking this year. We heard that concessions are offered wherever possible to regular patients and those with long running conditions. We do think that more could be done to put pressure on the PFI operator, perhaps by working with other public bodies who have PFI relationships with the same company.”
“It’s worth pointing out that much more cost effective council car parking is available close to the hospital but this may be too far away for many patients.”
Councillor Marcelle Lloyd-Hayes, vice-chairman of the committee added:
“The committee discussed the ways in which the NHS could save money if patients accessed the most appropriate services. A visit to the pharmacist is free and may be sufficient for many ailments whereas a visit to accident and emergency will cost the taxpayer £250. We think that some simple , low cost steps, could deliver significant savings.”
“One idea that was very positively received by representatives of the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group was for the council to include a leaflet advising people of the best ways to get health advice in different circumstances with the council tax bills sent to all households in the county."
"We will be inviting senior representatives from local health organisations and from the council to a workshop organised by the scrutiny committee to explore ways in which joint communication can be used to ensure patients access the right services at the right time”
The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee reviews and scrutinises any matter relating to the planning provision and operation of health services affecting Herefordshire. It makes reports and recommendations on those matters. It also has responsibility for the overview and scrutiny of children and adult safeguarding, social care functions relating to children, the Health and Wellbeing Board, other health bodies, organisations such as Wye Valley NHS Trust, and any other matters relating to health and social care.
More information about this committee is available on the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee area of the website
Wye Valley Trust launched a recruitment campaign in July this year and as a result has since recruited to a number of these posts. Staff recruited include return to practice nurses (staff who were trained nurses and have chosen to return to nursing). They will run a further recruitment campaign in October.