NHS Trust placed into special measures having “not given sufficient priority to safety”

Whipps Cross University Hospital in east London, part of Barts Health NHS Trust, has been placed into special measures after services were rated as inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

An inspection team led by England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals Sir Mike Richards found a culture of bullying and harassment, low staff morale, and too few doctors and nurses to ensure good standards of patient care after spending six days at the hospital in November 2014.

Inspectors also rated urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, end of life care, outpatients and services for children and young people as inadequate.

In all, the inspection team identified 15 key areas where the trust must make improvements. These include: (i) safety and effectiveness must be a priority in all core services; (ii) there must be appropriate levels and skills mix of staffing to meet the needs of all patients; (iii) bank and agency staff must be given full inductions to ensure they can access policies, be aware of practices and provide care and treatment in the areas they are required to work in; (iv) patients must be able to leave hospital when they are well enough; and (v) accurate records must be available for patients attending outpatient appointments.

“Our inspection of Whipps Cross University Hospital has highlighted a number of serious concerns surrounding poor leadership, a culture of bullying, and low staffing which has led to risks to patient safety”, said Sir Mike Richards.

“Barts Health NHS Trust has not given sufficient priority to safety. We found frequent staff shortages and a reliance on agency and locum staff that increased the risk to patients. The trust must get a grip on what is happening here and on the low staff morale.

“We have recently inspected two of the trust’s other hospitals and I will have more to say when we report on our findings from those inspections. In the meantime I will continue to monitor how Barts Health NHS Trust manages to deal with these longstanding issues. We will return in due course to check that the trust has made the immediate improvements we require.”

A full report of the inspection has been published today on the CQC website.


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