Inspection and Regulation

05.06.18

Chief inspector ‘disappointed’ with progress of Worcestershire special measures trust

More needs to be done to pull Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust out of special measures, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.

The trust, which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital & Treatment Centre and Alexandra Hospital, was placed into special measures in December 2015 and has been subject to frequent inspection since then.

However, England’s chief inspector of hospitals has said that although some improvements have been made, more must be done to ensure patients receive appropriate care.

Early last year, the trust was told to improve or face potential administration, and inspectors visited between 23 January and 22 March to check on progress with improvements following a previous inspection in November 2017.

While the trust’s rating for being well-led has improved from inadequate to requires improvement, its ratings for being effective and being safe and responsive remain as requires improvement and inadequate respectively.

According to the CQC, there is a “strong link” between the quality of overall management of a trust and the quality of its services, and inspectors found that the stability of the leadership had “significantly increased” over the last year, with just one executive post interim at the time of the inspection.

The leadership team were aware of the challenges to quality and sustainability faced by the trust, as well as the actions needed to address them, but many projects were at an early stage and so had not yet consistently resulted in the required improvements.

Not all staff in senior roles had the experience, knowledge, capacity or capability to lead effectively. Shortly before the inspection there had been a reconfiguration of clinical divisions.

Although the trust’s rating remains as good for being caring and some services had improved, inspectors found that some had declined since the last inspection, which the chief inspector called “disappointing”, and overall its rating has remained as inadequate and it remains in special measures.

Chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, explained that the main concerns remain with urgent and emergency care, surgery and outpatients. These remain as inadequate overall with patients waiting for over an hour before being handed over to emergency department staff – worse than the average for England.

However, improvements were seen across maternity services at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, which are now rated as good, with the Meadow Birth Centre winning a national award in recognition of its outstanding health care environment.

Baker said: “This trust has been in special measures far too long. Further improvements are needed and must be delivered rapidly. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, taking further action as necessary. 

The trust board knows what it must do to bring about sustainable change to its services and ensure people receive the care they should be able to expect.”

 

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