West Midlands hospitals urged to provide hot meals for staff amid cost of living crisis

Richard Beeken, chief executive of Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said that health services needed to focus not just on the needs of the sick, but on the wider community

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Hospitals must prioritise the needs of staff – including making sure hot food is available to night shift workers, according to a Midlands NHS boss.

Richard Beeken, chief executive of Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, is urging health to focus on the needs of the wider community - in addition to caring for the sick.

Speaking at a health and wellbeing board, held at Birmingham City Council on Tuesday (May 17), he said: “There’s nothing more powerful than a tweet I saw a few weeks ago from an exhausted junior doctor who basically said: ‘I don’t want yoga lessons. I don’t want health and wellbeing sessions.

“What I want is a car parking space and somewhere to get hot food at two o’clock in the morning. Enough colleagues to work with me on my shift, and somewhere to hang my coat and hat when I get to work.’

“Focusing on those fundamentals is much a key part of our development as is perhaps the most sort of highfalutin organisational development.”

Midlands Metropolitan University Hospital CGIMidlands Metropolitan University Hospital CGI
Midlands Metropolitan University Hospital CGI

What else his happening in healthcare in the West Midlands?

It comes as the new Midlands Metropolitan University Hospital, located at Grove Lane, Smethwick, will be opened next year under Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

It had originally been set to open this year, but contract failures with the now defunct Carillion pushed the desired date back.

Mr Beeken said: “The trust had a strategy that had elapsed in 2020 that was largely pointed towards opening a new middle of that hospital which of course didn’t open on that date.

“Coronavirus has happened since then. Sandwell and West Birmingham is a trust has slipped backwards in terms of both the regulatory opinion of the quality of its services, but also staff and patients surveyed opinion of the quality of its services as well.

“We wanted to do more than just be an organisation that treats the sick because we can quite easily continue to structure ourselves to do that.

“We’ve been very clear that the national workforce crisis could be ignored and we can stick our heads in the sand or we can accept that the recruitment, retention, and the expiration of our clinical and non clinical staff is going to help us to deliver better outcomes for people.”

What about the longer term plans for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS trust?

The comments were made as the trust considers a five-year plan.

An inspection by the Care Quality Commission in 2018 noted improvements were needed for cleanliness, how patients records and medicines were being stored, and risk management.

Dr Manir Aslam, general practitioner principal of Broadway Health Centre, in Ladywood, said: “Although the hospitals are challenged, some of the services that we provide for the most deprived populations are some of the best that we’ve got. And what we don’t want to do is unpick the really great work that we’ve done.

“We just need to maintain a focus on saying that actually those services must stay in place so we mustn’t be disadvantaged […] It’s just a plea to say don’t pick those things because putting them back together will be very difficult.”

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