Sign Up

Subscribe to Liam's email newsletter for regular updates

Category Archives: Health centres

Letter to Jeremy Hunt re. Health Centres in Hodge Hill

Today, I attended a high-level meeting with   Cllr John Cotton, the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board for the city of Birmingham to discuss the complete lack of progress in operationalising health centres. Not a single NHS official  turned out.
This is the letter I sent to Jeremy Hunt following the meeting:


Dear Jeremy

Health Centres in Hodge Hill

Can I express my deep frustration with NHS officials who simply failed to attend a high-level meeting with both myself and Cllr John Cotton, the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board for the city of Birmingham to discuss the complete lack of progress in operationalising health centres – on Clodeshall Road and on the Firs estate – in my constituency.

As you know two health centres were built at the cost of over £20 million – and despite my work to consistently convene your officials at 3-6 month intervals over the last FOUR YEARS, almost no progress has been made maximising their use. Four years on, I am told they are running at around 30% utilisation. In a constituency with some of the worst health outcomes in Britain, and with the second busiest A+E department in Britain at Heartlands, this is simply not acceptable.

A summit convened by me and BCC earlier this year agreed an action plan, on which NHS officials have made no progress – and at today’s agreed meeting, they simply failed to turn up to discuss next steps, despite representation at the meeting from Heart of Birmingham Trust, BCC’s Social Care Director and the head of BCC’s health and well-being division.

This cannot go on.

Can I ask therefore;

1. For your urgent review of this matter and an apology from NHS England

2. A plan for maximising the utilisation of these centres

3. A timetable for securing maximum utilisation.

Given NHS England’s complete failure to deliver services at these centres, can I propose that they are either handed over the Heart of Birmingham Trust, or a community organisation, to maximise their use.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours ever

Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP


Chief Inspector of Hospitals publishes his findings on the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust

This week I have received a copy of the CQC’s report on the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. You can access a pdf copy of the report on the link below and the CQC’s press release is detailed further below:


Heart of England report


Press release

EMBAROGED UNTIL: 00.01 Tuesday 14 January 2014

Chief Inspector of Hospitals publishes his findings on the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust  


England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has published his first report on the quality of care provided by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in the West Midlands.


The trust was inspected under radical changes introduced by the Care Quality Commission, which provide a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than ever before.


As well as good care, during its inspection CQC uncovered a number of concerns and areas for improvement at the trust’s Good Hope Hospital in relation to how its services are assessed and monitored. These have prompted the regulator to issue a warning notice to the trust demanding that improvements in this area are made by 21 February 2014.


What inspectors found:


Overall, the report concludes that the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is generally providing patients with safe and effective care. For example, patients and their relatives said that staff were caring and kind and this was observed by the inspection team.


The inspection team found areas of good practice, which included:


  • The system to highlight patients who are medically fit for discharge promotes multidisciplinary working to discharge patients effectively.
  • The work carried out by the end of life care team in ensuring relatives were involved and continued to feel cared for after the death of their loved one.
  • The support of the critical care outreach team to other hospital staff while patients were waiting for a critical care bed.


However, there were a number of areas for improvement that CQC found, including a shortage of midwives and concerns regarding staffing in surgical care and wards caring for older people.


Also, there were concerns with how patients were treated once they had been triaged (the process of assessing and prioritising people’s injuries and illnesses) at reception in the A&E department. Once the initial triage was undertaken on arrival, patients were not being assessed by a healthcare professional within the recommended 15 minute timeframe.


Furthermore, CQC’s inspectors observed that all A&E cubicles at Good Hope Hospital were occupied and some patients had to wait on trolleys in the corridor. On reviewing the care records of two patients, it was clear that they had not been assessed or received any physiological checks while they were waiting.


Also, inspectors witnessed two patients calling out for help in a distressed manner who were ignored by nearby staff as they were busy with other tasks.


The national guidance for clinical practice states that staff should check the emergency equipment daily to ensure it is ready in the event of an emergency. However, CQC found that these checks were not taking place, both in the A&E department and on a nearby ward.


In response, CQC has told the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust that it must take action to improve in the following areas:


  • The care provided in the A&E departments, particularly around the timing and type of initial assessment.
  • Clarification with regard to services provided by the A&E department at Solihull.
  • Ensuring patients are cared for on appropriate wards and clinical areas.
  • In the reduction of the use of agency and bank staff through continued recruitment of permanent staff.
  • Documentation relating to patient care.
  • Clarification with regard to services provided in the Critical Care Unit at Solihull and whether staff are appropriately trained to look after those patients who could be admitted to the unit.


CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “Whenever we inspect we will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led?


“While most services were delivered safely at the trust, the safety of patients in all the A&E sites, the acute medical unit at Good Hope Hospital and the Critical Care Unit at Solihull must be improved. We were concerned about staffing levels in some parts of the trust. However, the trust had an active recruitment programme and could demonstrate that significant numbers of staff were due to start work in early 2014.


“The trust appeared to have well trained staff but there were concerns surrounding the services at Good Hope Hospital and Solihull A&E and Critical Care Unit. Most people described their care as good, telling inspectors that staff were caring, despite being busy.”


CQC’s Head of Hospital Inspection, Fiona Allinson said: “The concerns CQC found were unacceptable and we have warned the trust it must improve. CQC will continue to monitor the service closely and our inspectors will be returning unannounced to check on whether improvements have been made and standards are being met.”


CQC spent four days at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, including Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Heartlands Hospital, and Solihull Hospital in November. The inspection team included doctors, nurses, hospital managers, trained members of the public, CQC inspectors and analysts. They examined the care provided in accident and emergency, medical care (including older people’s care), surgery, intensive/critical care, maternity, children’s care, end of life care and outpatients.


The reports, which CQC has published today (Tuesday 14 January), are based on a combination of their findings, information from CQC’s Intelligent Monitoring system, and information provided by patients, the public and other organisations.


The full reports are available at:

CQC will return to the trust at a later date to follow up the findings of this inspection and to report on the trust’s progress in making the required improvements.


For media enquiries, call Louise Grifferty, regional communications manager, on 07717 422917, or Helen Gildersleeve, regional communications officer, on 0191 233 3379.

The CQC press office can also be reached on 020 7448 9401 during office hours or out of hours on 07917 232 143.  

For general enquiries, call 03000 61 61 61.

Notes to editors


  1. CQC has presented its findings to a local Quality Summit, including NHS commissioners, providers, regulators and other public bodies. The purpose of the Quality Summit was to develop a plan of action and recommendations based on the inspection team’s findings.
  2. The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public. Sir Mike is implementing his new approach to hospital inspection with 18 NHS trusts across England, which represent variation of care. By the end of 2015, CQC will have inspected all acute NHS Trusts in the country with its new inspection model.

About the Care Quality Commission


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, caring, well-led and responsive care, and we encourage care services to improve. We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.


Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Here are details of Birmingham Council’s planning consultation on Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Birmingham Council is interested in your comments on the application, preferably before 22 December 2013.


Follow the link for more information and to find out how make comments:

Birmingham Council’s planning consultation on Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Sort out our health centres

The huge new health centres on Clodeshall Road in Washwood Heath and on the Bromford and Firs were amongst our biggest achievements in Hodge Hill.

But now the new government is in power, and their new “Clinical Commissioning Groups” started work in the city on 1st April . Now we’ve learned there are SIX different parts of the NHS responsible for our health centres. What a mess!

Cllr Tim Evans and I sat down with the new NHS team a couple of weeks ago to plot a way forward. The NHS has agreed we’ve got to simplify things – and come up with a real vision for the future. So I’ll be helping to lead a delegation to Bromley by Bow in London to look around the greatest health hub in Britain to steal a few ideas!

Progress at last!

Fewer people seen fast on the NHS

Last week I met the new Chief Executive, Dr Mark Newbold, of the Heartlands hospital, to hear about how the government’s misguided shake-up of the NHS is going to hit local residents. It’s clear, we just don’t know how bad it’s going to get. Much depends on whether we can get local care in place to reduce the pressure on what’s clearly an already very, very busy hospital. Thank heavens we’ve two new mega-centres funded by Labour, about to open in Washwood Heath and the Bromford.

The good news is that Dr Newbold is determined to put basic standards of compassionate care at the top of his list – and is actively looking at new ways for the hospital which employs 10,000 people, to boost local employment and training prospects in Hodge Hill. More on this to follow.

But, what’s already clear is that since the new Tory-led government took over, the number of people getting treatment within 18 weeks is falling – its back to 2008 levels already. I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this. The public will not forgive this government failing the NHS.

Our new £12 million health centre takes shape

Friday found me on Clodeshall Road inspecting progress on our new £12 million health centre. It is incredible!

It’s basically the size of a small hospital, with a three storey glass fronted atrium stretching down the centre of the building, consulting rooms, x-ray facilities, community spaces, and a community cafe. Upto 50 people are working through-out the week to get the building finished to the very highest environmental standards.

The good news is the construction team leaders tell me their plan is on-track to hand over the community next April.  It’s going to make the world of difference.

Story in ‘The Times’ today

Some of you might have seen a story in The Times today, which suggested that hospitals would close as a result of the savings and efficiencies in spending in the Department of Health,  part of a wider programme of savings across government which I am driving as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

This is wrong. The Times accepted that they’d made a mistake and overnight they changed the way the story was written to more accurately reflect what I said in the interview.

In the interview, I specifically said that hospitals would NOT have to close as a result of these savings. What I DID say is that hospitals will do more of their work in community health centres and the like.  These centres – we’re going to get three in Hodge Hill – are more convenient, efficient and cheaper. And patients like them.

The Health Secretary Andy Burnham has said many times that he wants more care provided in the community, rather than in hospitals. Of course, if you start providing more care in the community, you might be able to stop using certain buildings on hospital sites – but ‘closing buildings’ is a world away from “hospital closures”!

For the record, here’s the relevant part of the interview transcript:




Is it going to mean hospitals are going to close?

No, I don’t think it is, but I do think that some hospitals will have to start doing more of their care in the community rather than in, you know, big expensive buildings, so we’re getting three health centres,  big new health centres, in Hodge Hill, thanks to the fantastic constituency MP [sound of laughter from journalists] and a lot of hospitals will be able to do more of their work in centres like that which are in many ways more convenient

So you might be able to close some of the hospital buildings?

Yes, well, a lot of hospitals I think are thinking about moving some of their business out  into the community because it’s better care, it’s better quality, it’s more convenient, it’s round the corner, you know. It’s also cheaper.


Byrne backs residents fight for better access to new health centre

Liam Byrne MP today met with the head of Birmingham City Council Highways and Transport Department, David Bull at the site of the new health centre on Firs Farm Drive.

The Member of Parliament for Hodge Hill has fought hard for three new local health centres, but is determined that they should be designed by the community to meet community needs.

Local residents are delighted to see £10million being spent on the new health centre which is set to open its doors in 2011, but are frustrated about access plans. Many are worried that the access road is not wide enough and that it will impede residential parking.

Liam said:

This will be a world class health centre for local families, but it is vital the planners get it right. Residents are worried that the access road isn’t wide enough for extra traffic so I’ve bought the Head of Highways to see for himself.

action centre

Liam Byrne MP’s twitter

Follow @LiamByrneMP on twitter.