Regarding the article ‘Hospitals’ boss promise: ‘We are getting there’’ (The Cumberland News, Friday November 23)

It is intriguing how chief executive Stephen Eames puts a positive slant on what is again overall a negative CQC report. The report states that the trust requires improvement.

Stephen Eames appears to defend the trust and play down the issues. He considers there is a distinction between the ‘risk of harm’ as opposed to ‘real harm’.

What does he judge to be ‘real harm’? Lack of urgent care can result in poorer outcomes, but he seems confident nothing bad has actually happened. Would he necessarily know if it had?He attributes the shortcomings of the trust to ‘A&E and medical care’. It is more complex.

A&E struggles because there are insufficient beds available for patients to be admitted. They have to remain in the A&E department for prolonged periods. This results in other patients arriving at A&E being held up and ambulance personnel being delayed.

We have heard stories from ambulance crews of confused elderly patients being delivered home to find no food in the house, no heating on and no support. We were informed that ambulances often have to return patients back to the hospital within a very short time of their discharge. Not addressing important problems in a timely way just escalates them and it is inefficient and costly.

Mr Eames denies that the issues identified in the CQC report were caused by any shortage of funding. We wonder why the trust is so desperate to cut beds if funding is not an issue? . It seems that no longer are good hospitals judged by the standard of care patients receive but by how effectively they can stop patients being admitted and how quickly they can get rid of them.

Staff, he admits, is an ongoing challenge. It is a pity that retention of staff is not given better consideration. We are aware of many who have left or retired early because they are upset and disillusioned that their concerns are not heard or properly investigated by management. These are often staff with many years of experience who have left before they would or should have.

He dislikes the remark by the CQC that teams are “burnt out”. He seems to think it is normal for staff to be ‘very stretched and under a lot of pressure’. That doesn’t make it right.

We believe that patients generally receive a high standard of care from health care professionals. It tends to be the systems that let the service down and destroy staff morale.

He confirms that overall he is very pleased with the report and says the trust has come a long way but agrees there is still work to do. We would urge the chief executive and management team to reconsider their objectives as a good health care provider and admit and address, not defend failings.

P & C Gray

Retired local doctors