MANAGERS from London’s Royal Free Hospital came to Basildon Hospital yesterday to help their Essex counterparts find ways to improve patient care.

The visit came a month after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced 11 failing hospitals were to be paired with more successful ones in an effort to turn their fortunes around.

Under the partnership officials from the Royal Free will regularly spend time on wards, talk to staff and listen to patients’ concerns.

Yesterday’s visit, by the Royal Free’s head of paediatric nursing and clinical lead for paediatrics is part of t h e effort t o raise standards at Basildon after it was placed into special measures in July.

It was deemed to be failing under the Keogh Review, which investigated death rates and other issues at Basildon and 13 other hospital trusts.

Basildon Hospital trust chief executive Clare Panniker will shortly begin meeting with Royal Free managers, including medical director Stephen Powis, director of nursing Deborah Sanders and chief executive David Sloman to draw up with a long-term improvement plan.

Mrs Panniker said: “We have a number of ideas about how we can work with them and have a number of enthusiastic staff, who want to go into the Royal Free to see what it does.

“I think it can learn from us as well. I see this as being a two-way partnership.”

As part of the drive for improvements, NHS troubleshooter Adam Cayley has also been hired by the trust and improvement manager.

Mr Cayley, who works for the health regulator, Monitor, is spending a day a week in Basildon.

He said: “This is a hospital which is improving, but if it does run into problems, I could spend more time here. I’m particularly looking at what the hospital is bringing in from the recommendations in the Keogh review. I want it to show the right changes are being implemented.

“Most of my time is being spent meeting staff and patients, but I’m not just going to turn up at A&E in the middle of the afternoon, because that's not the most productive use of my time.

“I’m also working closely with those with whom I already have existing relationships, such as the Care Quality Commission.”