Health chief Deborah Lee has apologised but will not resign after inspectors raised concerns over surgical safety, bullying and racial discrimination at Gloucestershire’s two main hospitals.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s overall rating was downgraded from good to requires improvement after an inspection in June found there were 11 “never events” – serious incidents that should be avoidable.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said poor leadership was one of the reasons why Gloucestershire Hospitals’ surgery department was downgraded.
And inspectors said leaders did not always use the organisations’ values to improve the culture and services for patients, adding that “not all leaders were visible and approachable for patients and staff and not all staff felt respected, supported and valued”.
A warning notice was issued to the trust with significant improvement required in areas of safety, leadership, risk management and governance for the surgery services’.
Ms Lee, the hospital trust chief executive, who as of March last year was on a yearly salary of at least £265,000, told councillors yesterday (October 18) that the CQC report was a “really hard read” for her.
She said her aim was to reassure the joint adult social care and health overview and scrutiny committee of the safety of their surgical services.
Ms Lee also wanted to leave those present at Shire Hall with a really clear sense of the leadership team’s commitment to tackle the cultural problems at the trust.
“None of us come to work to do anything other than our very best. That’s our intention and for us to read that we have not achieved that was really tough,” she said.
“I would like to take this public opportunity to express my apologies to any patient, family member or colleague that has been impacted by the issues raised in this report.
“I have reflected considerably on what this means for me. As people have rightly pointed out, I am the leader of the leaders. I’ve reflected on whether I am part of the problem or have the opportunity to be part of the solution.”
Ms Lee said she inherited the hospital when it was in special measures and issues around culture were very evident at that time.
“I’m proud that I led the trust to its first ever good rating by the CQC and I hope that I have the opportunity to do that again with the team I have now.”
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