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31.10.17

Major staffing issues identified at Birmingham trust by CQC

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust has been rated as Requires Improvement in its latest inspection by the CQC.

Services at the trust were initially inspected in February 2017, with an additional inspection in March. Further unannounced inspections were then carried out in April.

Core services including A&E, medical services, surgery services, end of life care services, outpatient and diagnostic imaging services, and the Birmingham Midland Eye Centre were all checked during the inspection.

Overall the regulator rated the trust as Requires Improvement, the same as its previous rating. The trust was given the rating for being safe, effective and responsive, although it was rated as Outstanding for being caring.

The inspectors did find many improvements since the 2015  inspection, and end of life care was rated as Outstanding at both hospitals and in community care settings.

However, community inpatient care was not up to scratch.

Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “Although some improvements had been noted since our previous inspection in October 2014, the trust had not made all the necessary changes to alter their rating.

“Staff in the outpatients department did not have their competencies assessed to ensure they were confident and competent to carry out their role,” he argued. “The trust did not always ensure there was enough staffing or appropriate skill mix.

“CQC rated the community inpatient services as inadequate because of lack of mental health capacity assessments, poor care planning and inconsistent assessment of risk.

“Paediatric Ophthalmology services were delivered in a service that was not focused on the needs of children.”

Despite this, Prof Baker explained that a number of areas were outstanding, adding that there was evidence of good practice across Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

“Patients and family members said that the care was not only excellent but that staff always went that extra mile,” he continued.

Following the inspection the regulator has instructed the trust to take action in several areas.

Patients in the emergency department must receive treatment within one hour of arriving, as per the Royal College of Emergency Medicine recommendation,

Temporary staff must be trained better so that they are competent to fulfil the role required of them, and hospital bosses were also told to improve patient records to ensure they are always accurate and complete.

The trust must also improve its local governance and ensure that risks are escalated, recorded, actioned and reviewed in a timely manner.

Toby Lewis, chief executive of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are all pleased that they recognised real improvement since the Trust was inspected in 2014.

“I am delighted with the rating for our innovative partnership for end of life care, which we believe is one of the best services in the country, and underlines our strong tradition of partnership on the patch.  

“The service is a role model for the wider STP.”

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