London trust told to improve for third time in three years

A major London NHS trust has been told by inspectors that it needs to urgently improve after it received its third ‘Requires Improvement’ rating in three years.

The CQC reviewed care at the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust in March this year and found that improvements to care had been insufficient since it was last at the trust in 2014.

It also follows inspectors being called to hospitals in 2016 as patients, relatives and staff raised concern about standards at Lewisham and Greenwich, leading the CQC to undertake an emergency inspection at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, rating the care in its emergency and medical services as ‘Requires Improvement’.

In its most recent inspection, the CQC found that safeguarding training rates and mandatory training rates “fell well below the trust’s target”, and also discovered significant shortages of medical, nursing and allied health professional staff in most departments.

It also found issues with infection control waste management, cleanliness, end of life care, and added that the hospital was not providing responsive care in many areas.

Some areas of outstanding practice were highlighted, however, including in critical care, where “there was a dynamic programme of research and development enabled by the full-time appointment of a research nurse working with doctors including consultants”.

“The trust has not made sufficient progress since our last comprehensive inspection,” said England’s chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker. “There remain areas of unresolved risks and areas for significant improvement. This included the acute emergency pathway at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“However, we did see good and some outstanding practice in the trust’s community services, and great credit goes to the staff in these services for the quality of care they provide.”

Dr Elizabeth Aitken, medical director at Lewisham and Greenwich, admitted that the CQC’s report showed that the trust was not getting it right every time for patients when the inspection was carried out.

“We apologise to the individual patients and their families where the report shows that we were failing to provide the best care,” she said.

“We launched a major safety and quality improvement plan immediately after the CQC inspection in March and have made significant improvements for patients. This is a joint plan with our health and social care partners to make the improvements needed across the whole system to address the issues raised by the CQC.”

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