With Ealing Hospital receiving yet more criticism in this year's Health Check, reporter JAMES GATES talks to chief executive Julie Lowe to see how the hospital trust is responding and speaks to two patients who have first-hand experience of treatment at the site
It seems fair to say that the last 12 months have not been the best for Ealing Hospital.
The Uxbridge Road site has already had one report this year, taken from a survey of in-patients, labelling it the worst hospital in Britain.
And recently, another report said its Accident and Emergency facilities were below par.
Now, the Healthcare Commission has released its annual Health Check, which assesses every aspect of health provision in the country.
And Ealing Hospital has not fared as well as it had hoped. It may have been rated 'good' for the use of its resources, but its quality of service has only been scored as 'fair', the second worst mark the commission can give.
The Gazette asked Julie Lowe, who has been chief executive at the hospital trust for 18 months, whether she thought the site was a target for bad publicity.
She said: "If people believe that this is the case then we have to do something to address that perception.
"We've said 'what is it about Ealing Hospital and the people using our services that shows they're not happy with the services they've been given?'"
And she pointed out that the patient survey was between 10 and 12 pages long and only in English, and possibly did not fully reflect the attitudes of all patients.
"It's not about whether the survey is fair or unfair, it's about understanding we have people who are not happy and trying to do something about it."
This year's Health Check highlighted that the trust did not meet standards in infection control and had under-achieved in areas like controlling the spread of MRSA.
Mrs Lowe said: "We obviously want our services, ideally, to be excellent.
The issue around MRSA was a one-off and we continue to look at all the areas concerned to make sure our performance either stays good or improves."
One way in which the trust is improving is through its new Commitment To Care initiative, which takes the form of an information pack designed to help patients find out about standards of care, prepare for treatment and recovery and provide feedback.
"This campaign aims to improve our patients' experience of the hospital. We have also focused on tackling MRSA and we have seen an ongoing reduction in the number of cases."
Mrs Lowe added that she was delighted that the trust received another good rating for its use of resources.
"One of the things that we keep saying is that this is people's local hospital so if they have constructive comments then we are keen to hear from them.
Another issue for the hospital is its bid to become a foundation trust, which means it would be run locally with greater freedom from central Government.
But Mrs Lowe said the trust's application has now been postponed due to the Government's Darzi report, which introduces uncertainty as to how healthcare will be provided across London in the future.
"The trust is very aware of the need to focus on improving the quality of services."