The CQC Deems Whipps Cross University Hospital Inadequate: By Gemma Hughes
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently published its Quality Report on Whipps Cross University Hospital, noting that significant improvements to most of the Hospital’s services are required. The CQC gave Whipps Cross an overall rating of ‘Inadequate’, extending this rating to its urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, services for children and young people, end of life care and outpatients and diagnostic imaging. Services such as maternity and gynaecology and critical care, meanwhile, were found to “require improvement”.
Whipps Cross is managed by Barts Health NHS Trust, which has admitted to having been put into special measures, meaning that regulators are currently working to improve its services. Key findings included:
- A culture of bullying and harassment dominated the Hospital.
- Morale was low and staff were afraid of repercussions if they spoke to inspectors.
- One of the reasons for the low morale was the removal of 220 posts in 2013. Reorganisation had a detrimental effect on the staff and the service they provided.
- The environment was not conducive to recruiting and retaining staff, nor to the sustainability of services.
- Faulty IT systems had a negative impact on safety and care of patients, many of whom struggled to obtain appointments and to receive recognition of their need for care.
- Patients, staff and stakeholders are still concerned about the quality of service provided.
- The lack of staff was causing safety concerns; handovers between medical staff were unstructured, leading staff members to lack information on patients’ needs.
- The management of medicines (including storage and administration of medicines) required improvement in some areas.
- Opioid use was inconsistent across wards.
- Patients close to the end of the life were not identified, so their needs were often unmet.
- The management of patient’s nutritional and hydration was irregular.
- Improvements were required to ensure that staff gave patients the care and compassion they deserve.
- The high bed occupancy meant that operations were often cancelled, or that patients were frequently moved from ward to ward.
- Some patients were forced to face delays of over 18 weeks from referral to treatment.
The report did mention areas of outstanding practice, including pain relief for adults an children and womens’ satisfaction with The Great Expectations maternity programme. The report also noted that although improvements had been made and there were examples of good practice (such as close multi-disciplinary working), further work was required. The report is a wake-up call to the detrimental effect of cutting back on NHS funding. Thus far, various groups such as parents of addicted youth, families of the elderly etc., are calling for increased NHS funding. Parenting when addiction is involved and caring for vulnerable family members is a challenge in its own right, but with many health services close to collapse, current provisions for public health are clearly inadequate.
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