England’s biggest NHS trust is put in special measures after report raises issues with patient safety

Whipps-Cross-Hospital 2England’s biggest NHS trust is put in special measures after report raises issues with patient safety

Barts Health NHS Trust has been put into special measures following a report by The Care Quality Commission (CQC). The report found a culture of bullying and low morale among staff at Whipps Cross Hospital, one of six hospitals run by the Trust.

The report also found that there were not enough nurses or doctors to ensure safe care was provided. Staff were overstretched and some agency staff had not been trained properly in their roles, which risked errors being made when it comes to patient care.

The average bed occupancy was so high that it was affecting the flow of patients through the hospital. Patients were admitted to wards which were not appropriate to their needs. Others were cared for in recovery areas or transferred out of critical care beds, despite their clinical needs.

The hospital persistently failed to meet national waiting time targets. Some patients were waiting more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment. Too many operations were cancelled due to a lack of available beds.

When things went wrong, staff did not have the time to report incidents, were not encouraged to report incidents, and were not aware of any improvements or learning. Even senior staff were unaware of serious incidents, and how they should have been involved in leading required changes.

Prof. Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “There is a large section of the population in east London who depend on this hospital and they are entitled to services which provide safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care.”

Susan Liver, Clinical Negligence specialist and a partner at Birchall Blackburn Law, says: “The failings at Whipps Cross Hospital raise serious concerns about the safety of patients. Low morale, under staffing and undertrained temporary staff will have led to mistakes and patients and loved-ones will have many questions. The Trust delivers care to 2.5 million people in east London – there could be a lot of questions to answers.”

Barts Health NHS Trust has a turnover of £1.25 billion and a workforce of 14,000. Its six busy hospital are, St Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital in the City, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, Newham University Hospital in Plaistow, Mile End Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone.

The special measures regime has been introduced to offer the support trusts need to improve their care.

One of the first steps the Trust has taken is to strengthen the leadership team at Whipps Cross and to speed up a comprehensive programme of quality improvements. The hospital will now have a dedicated managing director, a director of nursing and a medical director to support its day-to-day running and its improvement. Staff and health partners will be fully involved in the development and implementation of the improvement programme and a staff representative will be a member of a new improvement board.

In addition, Dr Tim Peachey, Associate Medical Director at the NHS Trust Development Authority, has agreed to work with the Trust to help shape the quality improvement plan for Whipps Cross University Hospital. Dr Peachey brings a wealth of clinical experience as a consultant in anaesthesia at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and as chief executive officer of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust prior to its acquisition by the Royal Free London in July 2014.

Trust chief executive Peter Morris said: “We are very sorry for the failings identified by the CQC in some of our services at Whipps Cross and we know the Trust has a big challenge ahead.

“Much has been done but we recognise that more needs to be done. We will take all the necessary steps to raise quality standards at Whipps Cross.”

If you have suffered as a result of poor standards of care in any hospital, our specialist Clinical Negligence lawyers are here to help. We understand the worry and pain that medical mishaps can cause and will always handle your case sympathetically. For support every step of the way, contact us on 0800 614 722 or 0333 321 2192 from a mobile.