HINCHINGBROOKE: Huntingdon hospital is inadequate, say CQC inspectors

Hinchingbrooke Hospital CEO Hisham Abdel-Rahman.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital CEO Hisham Abdel-Rahman. - Credit: Archant

Hinchingbrooke Hospital could be put into special measures after it was rated as “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the worst of its ratings.

The CQC, which inspected the hospital in September, released its report into standards at the Huntingdon hospital today (Friday).

Inspectors say that three of the five categories – are services safe, caring and well-led – were inadequate and the remaining two – are services effective and responsive – required improvement.

As a result, the CQC has recommended Hinchingbrooke be put in special measures and its breaches monitored by the Trust Development Authority (TDA).

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, highlighted a number of key issues with the hospitals including the provision of care on Apple Tree Ward – which specialises in stroke care and rehabilitation – was inadequate and there were risks to patient safety.

He also raised concerns about the response to call balls on a number of wards, and in some cases was so bad that two patients said they were told to soil themselves, and another soiled themselves waiting for a nurse to come.

Prof Richards said: “We have given the trust an overall rating of ‘Inadequate’ and I have made a recommendation to the TDA that the trust is placed into special measures. We have informed the TDA of the breaches and it will make sure these are appropriately addressed and that progress is monitored through the special measures action plan.

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“Our inspection at Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust highlighted a number of serious concerns, surrounding staffing and risks to patient safety particularly in the A&E department and medical care. There were substantial and frequent staff shortages in the A&E department. There were a number of other areas of concern, some of which related to the way in which the trust is led and run. This is the first time that CQC has rated a trust inadequate for ‘caring’.

“Our findings highlight the significant failings at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. They are not a judgment on the role of the private sector in the NHS or on franchise arrangements. Where hospitals are failing to promote good care, we will say so regardless of who owns and runs them.

“Inspectors also found some examples of good practice at the trust, but changes are necessary and the trust faces a number of challenges to ensure it meets the required standards.

“We have told the trust what action it now needs to take.”

Other key findings were:

• Many instances of staff wishing to care for patients in the best way, but unable to raise concerns or prevent service demands from severely impinging on the quality and kindness of care for patients. In both maternity and critical care we noted good care, focused on patients’ needs, meeting national standards.

• There was a lack of paediatric cover within the A&E department and theatres that meant that the care of children in these departments was, at times,increasing potential risks to patient safety.

• There was a lack of knowledge around Adult Safeguarding procedures, Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty processes.

• Infection control practices were not always complied with in A&E Apple Tree ward, Cherry Tree ward, Walnut ward and in the Treatment Centre.

• Medicines, including controlled drugs, were not always stored or administered appropriately in A&E, Juniper ward, Apple Tree ward or Cherry Tree ward.

However there was some praise for the maternity and critical care wards, with staff focused on patients’ needs and inspectors singled out the paediatric specialist nurse in the emergency department and the chaplaincy staff for their work.

The inspectors raised 21 areas of poor practice the hospital needs to make improvements and a further 12 recommendations.