Inspection and Regulation

01.02.17

Worcestershire special measures trust told to improve or face administration

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals (WAH) NHS Trust has been given a warning notice from the CQC that it must make significant improvements or face potential administration.

The S.29A notice, based on the CQC’s inspection of the trust in November and December last year, has given the trust a deadline of 10 March by which to make improvements or face further action, with options open to the CQC including the appointment of a special administrator to run the hospital.

The trust, which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre and Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, has been in special measures since December 2015 after the CQC raised concerns over the safety of the trust’s A&E, paediatrics, maternity and gynaecology departments.

Last November the trust was ordered to improve its radiology backlog after a member of the public raised concerns about its radiology department.

“CQC has issued a warning to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust as a result of ongoing concerns surrounding the trust’s systems and processes to ensure the safety and quality of patient care,” a CQC spokesperson said.

“The trust is aware of what it needs to do and we will return to check on whether the necessary improvements have been made,” the spokesperson added. If improvements are not made, we will consider what further action we might take.”

According to an email circulated to staff by WAH’s chairman Caragh Merrick, the CQC’s notice relates to all three main hospital sites and particularly concerns the trust’s urgent care pathway, quality governance systems and its compliance measures.

Examples of concerns raised by the CQC include breaches of recommendations surrounding mixed sex accommodation, fridge temperatures, and A&E waits and staffing. 

The trust’s A&E departments faced pressure recently following reports that two patients died while waiting on trolleys in corridors over Christmas and the New Year, in incidents linked to winter pressures facing the NHS.

In the email, Merrick said that the trust “fully accepts” the CQC’s concerns and will “refocus on the basics [of caring for patients], admitting that “in the past we have lost sight of these”.

“If we get the basics right we will be able to show that we have improved and others will be able to see the improvement for themselves,” Merrick wrote.

“For any failings in the past we apologise, but we can only improve by focussing on what we are doing now.”

The trust has committed to building a permanent leadership team and embarking on a board-led improvement programme, Merrick said.

It is understood that the CQC is liaising with NHS England and NHS Improvement regarding WAH and is continuing to monitor the trust closely.

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