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  1. ITV Report

Complaints fall at Essex hospital

The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. Photo:

Hospitals in Essex have been making headlines this year, often for the wrong reasons. A series of damning reports have meant a worrying time for patients.

Back in February Basildon and Colchester hospitals had been named and shamed over high death rates. And in July the Keogh Review into those deaths, led to Basildon Hospital being put into special measures.

Then earlier this month Colchester hospital was investigated by Essex Police, over claims that staff were bullied into altering waiting-time figures.

Well today ITV News Anglia have been looking at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow which says it's turned things around, by putting patients - not targets - first.

Staff working at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

Being totally focused on patient care and not always on targets, is what the bosses at the Princess Alexandra say has helped them go from a poor to good rated hospital in the last two years.

The three directors at the trust have all risen through the nursing ranks and say that's put them in a better position to make key decisions.

"It's people who understand patients, who understand what their conditions are and what they need and understand the constraints of the system so what we need to do differently."

– Melanie Walker, Chief Executive

Now at the beginning of every public board meeting, patient complaints are the first item to be discussed. Patients are given an hour to present their case on how things could have been done differently.

75 complaints a month have gone down to 15.

"15 complaints a month is still a small number given the amount of interfaces we have. In any given year we do 16000 operations alone. The themes we have are still about communication. We're doing a lot of work around that, how people talk to patients, how they listen to patients and their relatives."

– Melanie Walker, Chief Executive

Among the changes, staff have led a complete re-organisation of A and E. The patients ITV News Anglia spoke to were happy with their treatment.

"The appointments they have given me have always been on time, if there has been any change they have told me. Actually nothing but praise for the treatment I have had."

– David Elbourn, Patient

"Very friendly and very kind people and obviously a bit under staffed too so they try their best."

– Sean Poynter, Patient

With the spotlight on hospitals and changes being made as a result of the Francis report into the Stafford Hospital scandal, The Princess Alexandra believes it's heading in the right direction.

You can see Victoria Lampard's full report on the Princess Alexandra Hospital by clicking below: