Health chiefs respond to criticism of North Cambs hospital mortuary by closing it after Government inspectors leave

Wisbech Hospital.

Wisbech Hospital. - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs responded to “serious concerns” about hygiene and patient record security at the mortuary at North Cambs Hospital, Wisbech, by closing it soon after a visit from Government inspectors.

Wisbech Hospital.

Wisbech Hospital. - Credit: Archant

The hospital was inspected by the Care Quality Commission twice within a ten day period in May and June – who on the first occasion “found concerns about the conditions there.

“We asked staff whether similar concerns had been raised previously and found that although some staff was aware of the issues and that external agencies had mentioned problems, these had not been escalated in the correct way.”

Inspectors raised concerns over the standards of cleanliness and infection control and noted there was “no effective monitoring of these standards.

“We were told the contractors were last in the building at least three weeks prior to our inspection.”


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Inspectors noted the refrigerated storage area was clean “but there were several areas in the mortuary that needed cleaning and repairing in order to minimise risk.”

Concerns were raised with the chief nurse and the palliative care lead “who assured us of immediate action taken to remedy the situation”.

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When inspectors re-visited 10 days later, unannounced, they found “the area had been cleared and the mortuary was closed with alternative arrangements in place for managing deceased patients.”

Inspectors on their first visit had also found “confidential papers and records, some of which related to patient care, in a room that was not secured.

“These records could be accessed by clinical staff and contractors. We were concerned that there were not systems in place to ensure patient records remained confidential.”

Again, though, on a re-visit 10 days later they found “action had been taken to clear the records and papers from the room.”

However they also found the systems for recording patient details of those who had been transferred to the mortuary to be “inadequate”.

Matthew Winn, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust- which runs a range of health services across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk- said only a small number of actions were identified as ‘must do’ by inspectors.

“The CQC found that there was a lack of oversight of the small mortuary on the North Cambridgeshire Hospital site in Wisbech,” he said.

“The trust took immediate action to permanently close the mortuary and put in place alternative arrangements.”

Mr Winn said the overall judgement of the CQC was that the trust consistently treated patients with “compassion, dignity and respect. Additionally patients were positive about the experience of receiving care from our services”.

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