Lancashire FT told to urgently improve by the CQC
A Lancashire foundation trust has been told to urgently improve its services after the CQC concluded the quality of care at its hospitals was not up to scratch.
The regulator has sent the message to the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT after it rated it as ‘requires improvement’ following an inspection of the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital in September 2016.
Back in June 2015, Monitor, which became a part of NHS Improvement in April 2016, hit the trust with regulatory action after it was found to be in breach of its license to provide care, and had to intervene to address problems with the its way finances were run.
One of the hospitals in the trust, Royal Preston Hospital, also made headlines in February after a radiologist at the hospital was found guilty of defrauding the NHS of £24,000.
Chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said that it was disappointing that the FT had not improved care after his organisation’s previous inspection in July 2014, which had already found significant problems surrounding patient flow and pressure within the A&E departments.
“Once again we found that patients were waiting too long in A&E, and a high number were placed in areas that weren’t the most appropriate for their needs due to capacity issues,” Sir Mike explained.
“Additionally, the problems with capacity and patient flow through the hospital led to the cancellation of planned operations due to bed shortages, patients unnecessarily being moved wards during their stay, and the use of areas such as theatre recovery to house patients instead of wards, at times of high pressure.”
There were also concerns with staffing levels at the trust, particularly within maternity, children’s and neonatal services, the chief inspector added.
“There are also significant challenges with medical staffing at the trust, although there are plans in place to improve recruitment in this area,” he continued.
“The trust is working against a backdrop of pressure on all of its services and I am anxious to see them continue to monitor and improve staffing levels, patients flow and patient discharge.”
Sir Mike added that the trust board were aware of the problems and the hospitals would continue to be monitored and assessed for improvement.
Leaders at the trust explained that they full accepted the CQC’s findings and that work was already underway to improve when inspectors visited in September last year.
Karen Partlington, its chief executive, said: “We are pleased that the CQC recognised that our staff are hardworking, caring, and treat patients with kindness and compassion.
“Inspectors also noted our open and transparent culture, and willingness to learn lessons and continuously improve. So we have the right values, expertise and commitment to move forward, and provide the outstanding care our patients deserve.”
The CEO added that the CQC was right to highlight the pressure that the trust was under, which is limiting the ability of staff to provide planned operations on time and hit A&E waiting time targets.
“We are working with our partners on a number of initiatives to prevent unnecessary hospital attendance and admission and to ensure enough of the right support is in place so that people can be discharged from hospital promptly and safely when they no longer need our specialist care,” argued Partlington.
Her colleague Sue Musson, chair of the trust, added: “Recent years have been exceptionally challenging for the NHS, and for our hospitals in particular.
“Demand has increased significantly, and funding has reduced. I am confident that the board has got a good grip of what needs to be done, and a robust and comprehensive plan to make the necessary improvements.”
The news at the Lancashire FT follows a dire week for a number of providers nationally, with NHE reporting just last week that four trusts had been placed into special measures in a matter of days.
Top Image: Peter Byrne PA
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