Struggling north west NHS foundation trust ‘must take action to improve’ after CQC inspection

Services at Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust ‘require improvement’ following its latest unannounced Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in March this year.

Chief inspector Professor Ted Baker said it was “disappointing” that the trust’s overall rating has gone down to requires improvement despite the FT providing services that were effective, responsive, and caring.

Five core services were inspected during the visit— community adults and sexual health services were deemed to require improvement, whereas children and young people’s services, urgent care and GP out-of-hours services were given the rating of ‘good’.

Communication between management groups was “not always effective” and inspectors saw evidence of senior managers not always having full oversight of key issues and risks, the report added.

The regulatory body noted “across most core services” the CQC was not assured there were effective processes in place to identify, escalate and mitigate risks. This led to “immediate patient risks,” although management took immediate action to mitigate these risks.

“There were not always clear and effective processes for managing risk, issues and performance across the core services we inspected. Risks were not always escalated appropriately and the services were sometimes slow to implement changes to mitigate risks,” the report noted.

Despite the trust’s shortcomings, staff were seen to be kind, caring and passionate about providing high quality care, offering the appropriate level of privacy and dignity, the CQC said.

Additionally, two areas of outstanding practice were seen. The dietetics team arranged for six weeks' worth of additional breastmilk to be provided to the lactation clinic, enabling attendees to continue breastfeeding. The team also provided additional support and advice to those attending the clinic. A children’s weight reduction had also been developed by staff, in association with a local gym, in order to encourage health and lifestyle changes with both children and their families.

Prof Baker said: “We have found that Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust provides services that are effective, responsive and caring - but it is disappointing to note that the trust’s overall rating has gone down to Requires Improvement.

“We found that the communications between management groups was not always effective and inspectors saw examples where senior managers did not always have full oversight of key issues and risks. Some staff told us that this was affecting the day to day care delivery and management.

“We have made it clear to the trust where it must take action to improve. Since the inspection the trust has been responding to these safety concerns and making changes to lessen the risks. We will continue to monitor those services and we will return in the near future to check progress.”

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