THE Trust which runs Shropshire’s two acute hospitals is to be put into special measures.

NHS Improvement (NHSI) today announced that The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) would be placed into special measures to address several challenges where patient care could be at risk.

These include governance, workforce, urgent and maternity care and whistleblowing issues.

NHSI chief executive Ian Dalton said: "While Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has been working through its many challenges, it is important that the trust is able to deliver the high-quality care that patients deserve.

"The time is right to ramp up our help by placing the trust in special measures. We know that the trust welcomes this decision and shares our commitment to turn around its performance and quality concerns for the benefit of patients and the wider community.”

SaTH will receive enhanced support, including additional funding, additional capacity to support the planned improvement programme, external buddying arrangements and strengthened oversight arrangements.

NHSI can place trusts into special measures for quality in response to a recommendation from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after its inspections and subsequent reports, as well as based on its own evidence.

The CQC carried out inspections of the trust’s services in August and September 2018.

Reports are expected imminently but in response to its findings, the CQC has already taken enforcement action to ensure patients get safe, high quality care.

SaTH chief executive, Simon Wright, said: “The Trust is trying to fix a number of legacy problems in the way its services are delivered. These issues have been many years in the making. This is a huge challenge and putting things right is not an easy matter.

“Over the last few weeks we have been discussing with NHS Improvement what extra support could be made available if the trust was placed in special measures. We absolutely welcome that extra support that comes with special measures and NHS Improvement's support for the trust's leadership to make the necessary improvements.

“We are confident that working with partners in the NHS and the wider community this Trust can deliver the great health services that the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales deserve.

“I understand that the announcement will, understandably, cause anxiety amongst our patients and staff. I am not denying that SaTH is facing challenges. The board has been shining a spotlight on them for many months and, in some cases, years. However, we know and I know that our staff provide great care day in, day out.

“On that note it is important that we don’t lose sight of all the really great work that happens at SaTH every single day.”

Mr Wright said that SaTH was among the top 20 per cent of trusts in the UK for ensuring patients wait no longer than 18 weeks between seeing their GP and having treatment at hospital

He added that SaTH is ensuring that more than 99 per cent of patients are having their diagnostic tests, such as MRI scans, CT scans and audiology assessments, within the national six week target

Mr Wright also said that SaTH is in the top 45 per cent of trusts for making sure cancer patients start their treatment with 62 days of receiving an urgent GP referral.

He added: “There is evidence of a really good hospital trust, filled with really talented and dedicated people, everywhere I look.

"We know there is a lot more work to do and there is a long and, no doubt at times, challenging time ahead, but we are confident that we will deliver.”