HOSPITAL boss Clare Panniker has promised to root out the “rotten apples” working in Basildon in an effort to improve care.

The chief executive plans to take “serious action” on those letting the hospital down and not working towards the board’s goals to make the hospital better.

Her tough stance comes as more families came forward to complain about treatment at Basildon Hospital at a series of public meetings organised by a solicitors firm and the Cure the NHS group.

Mrs Panniker said: “We can’t have a few rotten apples spoiling the hospital. We need to seek them out, we can’t have them letting the trust down.

“We will take serious action if people are not performing, delivering or don’t have the right value set.”

She also plans to work with families to help improve care and ensure failures do not happen in the future.

She has already met with Dan Chapple, who founded the Basildon branch of Cure the NHS, and group members Sharon Walsh and Tracey Webster.

Mrs Panniker said: “We had a proactive meeting and we will continue the dialogue.

“There’s no point putting up a brick wall, there will be things I can’t work with them on if they’re taking up a legal challenge, but for both families there is a strong desire, the outcome they want is to make the hospital better.”

Mrs Panniker explained she is now spending more time talking to complainants herself. Although she cannot answer “specifics of complaints”.

She added: “Where there have been complaints rumbling on and they have not had closure, we’re trying to make them at least feel we are listening and taking issues seriously and there is a commitment to change.”

Mrs Panniker told the Echo the hospital’s head of complaints and litigation Alison Kelly, along with two heads of nursing, were at public meetings held last week so patients and families could raise their concerns directly and she will be following up what was raised with them.

She has also outlined plans to increase the number of A&E beds by 80 more, is bringing in new staff, including a new patient experience leader and clinical director for women and children.

She also said there was some good news for the hospital with no cases of legionella recorded since November 2011 after a raft of measures were brought in to tackle the problem.

The trust is currently awaiting sentencing after eight patients and visitors caught legionnaire’s disease between 2004 and 2010.