THURROCK’S leading voices on health have welcomed the news Basildon Hospital will be subject to a “vigorous inspection” by the NHS medical director.

The announcement came last Wednesday after an inquiry into failings at a hospital in Staffordshire were published.

The Stafford hospital had a high rate of unneccessary deaths between 2005 and 2008 after reports of neglect and abuse.

The Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which also has two years of high death rates, is to be investigated along with four other hospital trusts.

NHS medical director Prof Bruce Keogh said: “Each of the hospitals we identify today is already under scrutiny by regulators.

“This clinically led and practical investigation will allow me to assure myself, Parliament and patients that these hospitals have everything they need to improve.”

Cllr Barbara Rice, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for health, pictured, said: “In the interest of users of Basildon Hospital I welcome this inspection, which follows the much-publicised Mid Staffs Hospital catastrophe where poor care, leadership and management led to unnecessary deaths.

“Basildon is one of five hospitals with the highest mortality rates in the country and the Care Quality Commission have regularly reported unsatisfactory results from inspections there.

“These concerns have been addressed only to have others emerge.

“We have taken a tough line with the hospital with the chief executive and senior directors attending both the shadow board and the scrutiny committees to explain how improvement is going to be achieved.”

Cllr Wendy Curtis, who is chairman of the council’s health and well-being overview and scrutiny committee said: “Hospital managers regularly come before us and tell us that things are getting better.

“Some years ago the hospital’s mortality rate was among the worst in the country, but we have been assured that has improved, in fact the hospital’s improvement rate is one of the best.

“I am really looking forward to see what the report says.”