Culture of Bullying at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust Laid Bare

A major new report has suggested that bullying is a serious problem in the NHS in Liverpool.

The review highlighted “failures at multiple levels” at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust since 2011.

It was even suggested that the bullying of staff in the trust could have contributed to some deaths in the region.

For example, one individual who was suffering from lung cancer was not diagnosed for a period of four months due to what was considered to be unwarranted bullying.

In response to the report, the trust has acknowledged that the issues had gone unchecked for a critical period of time, and has resolved to make significant improvements to its overall culture.

Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, confirmed that investigations were underway regarding some of the complaints unearthed by the research.

“We can confirm that we are investigating a number of individuals from Liverpool Community NHS Trust on allegations of misconduct.”

The trust delivers community health services to about 750,000 people in Liverpool and Sefton, either in their homes or at health centres.

Law firm Capsticks conductied the review, after the hierarchy of the trust received reports that bullying was indeed an issue within the organisation.

One of the most damning reports revealed by the research was the suggestion that an attack on a health worker, who was ultimately taken hostage and seriously assaulted by the relative of patient, was never fully investigated.

The board’s failure to properly oversee the trust’s in-patient services also led to the serving of two warning notices from the Care Quality Commission in January 2014

“A lack of clear management and leadership” on its health services for offenders, including a failure to “properly understand deaths in custody and the factors that contributed in part to those deaths,” according to the final report.

Commenting on the findings, Sue Page, chief executive at the trust since April 2014, indicated that it had become apparent that there were problems among staff when the report had been instigated two years ago.

“Two years ago, as we talked to staff, it was quite clear there were a lot of things that were clearly very wrong. Some of the staff were incredibly hurt by this and all I can say is a really big sorry on behalf of the NHS. They didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t their fault. We gave Capsticks complete independence and the staff feel it is an unbiased, independent report. A lot more has to be done. The report says we are only just turning a corner.”

Meanwhile, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has called for a public inquiry into the trust.

“This wasn’t just a poor quality job. We are talking about people who lacked basic humanity and appear to have fiddled the records to protect themselves.”

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Monitor Defers Decision on Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust

The Monitor regulatory body has deferred the foundation trust application of an NHS trust based in Liverpool.

Monitor has delayed a decision on the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust’s application to become a foundation trust for 12 months.

This trust provides specialist and acute services to more than 465,000 people across Liverpool.

Monitor carried out a stringent assessment on the trust, and concluded that financial planning within the body needs further attention.

The regulatory agency therefore took the decision to delay the application of the Merseyside-based trust for another year.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust must now work on improving the deficiencies that Monitor established in its assessment of the organisation.

However, it wasn’t all bad news for the Liverpool trust. Monitor did conclude that the body had shown significant improvement with regard to the way that it manages the quality of care.

It seems that the concerns of Monitor were largely related to the fiscal situation of the health trust, and could have been exacerbated by the general state of the NHS.

Many trusts across the United Kingdom have experienced financial difficulties over the last few years, and indeed Monitor is currently assessing the efficacy of several such bodies and organisations.

Monitor also acknowledged that the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust had made significant progress with its attempts to strengthen its board, but that the organisation still had important steps to take in order to ensure that the trust was viable.

In particular, the regulatory body stressed the need for the Liverpool-based organisation to further develop robust plans in order to provide good value-for-money services for patients in the longer-term.

Commenting on the decision of the regulatory organisation, Miranda Carter, Executive Director of Provider Appraisal at Monitor, explained he context of deferring the decision on whether Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen should become a foundation trust for a year.

“In light of the new hospital it is building we want to give the trust more time to improve its financial plans. The next year will also give the trust time to induct new board members and to develop its plans to participate in Healthy Liverpool to improve care across Liverpool,” Carter explained.

The existing NHS structure encompasses 151 trusts spread across their entirety of England, which accounts for 60 per cent of all the trusts in the NHS as a whole.

Foundation trust status enables patients to have a greater and more direct to say in their specific healthcare.

Additionally, foundation trusts were conceived in order to enable these organisations to have greater freedom in crafting services to match the needs of individual regions.

NHS foundation trusts are effectively free from central government control, able to retain any surpluses for further investment, and intended to be directly accountable to local communities.

It is also notable that local people serve as members and governors in such bodies.

Although the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has been denied this honour and responsibility for the time being, the verdict from Monitor suggests that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the NHS trust.

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