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Ward sisters vital, says Mid Staffs chief

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Good nurse leaders have been the key in improving care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, according to the outgoing chief executive.

Antony Sumara, who has a history of tackling problems at troubled NHS organisations, was brought in by foundation trust regulator Monitor two years ago to turn around the failing trust.

At the time, Mid Staffordshire was still reeling from the publication of a damning Healthcare Commission report that exposed major breaches in basic standards of nursing care and criticised staffing levels.

Since then, the trust has recruited an extra 140 nurses. This has included more ward managers and senior nurses, whom Mr Sumara told Nursing Times had made the “biggest difference” to quality of care.

He said: “Having a good ward sister is probably the most valuable thing you can have in terms of patient care. They will drive the quality; they’re there every day.”

Mr Sumara, who is married to a nurse, will be leaving the trust when his two-year contract expires at the end of the month.

He told Nursing Times the post had been “the most difficult job” he had ever done and that he regretted not “getting rid of enough people quickly enough” to change the culture at the trust.

He said staff now had their “heads down trying to make it better”, but accepted there may still be pockets of denial.

Mr Sumara compared his role to an accident and emergency consultant “stopping the bleeding”, and said his replacement, Lyn Hill‑Tout, would have the job of getting the trust “walking again”.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I agree with what Mr Sumara has said and would commend him for his efforts as he was supportive and visable to all front line staff. However, as a new employee during his rein and now an ex-employee of this Trust I feel that his regret of not getting rid sooner is the error made as the culture within this Trust is very difficult to change. Those members that remain and are not prepared to change will continue to be the downfall of this Trust. The new blood entering this Trust should be encouraged and inspired to progress not chastised, ostracised or left remote and blamed for the incompetence of others. My role as a ward manager was often solitary and unsupportive and even with trying so hard with my team to turn things around we were fighting a loosing battle. I feel i failed in my role which is very sad as i had been successful in other Trusts but also had a concern at the lack of resources and support from other more senior to me. This to me after 27 years in the NHS has been the most challenging experience in my career.

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  • I wonder if one of the reasons Mr Sumara was loathe to dismiss some staff was because of staffing numbers. it cant be easy to recruit to this hospital! However better to be short of staff than have inadequate obstructive ones as all they do is stop the good staff performing to their potential.

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