CONCERNED inspectors have called for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust (WAHT) to be placed in special measures after branding key aspects of services at its two main hospitals as ‘inadequate’.
The damning Care Quality Commission verdict on the troubled trust is revealed today (Wednesday) by inspectors who said the safety and leadership of services at both the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital were ‘inadequate’.
The effectiveness and responsiveness of services ‘required improvement’ but WAHT was praised for the ‘good’ care delivered by staff.
Inspectors, led by Sir Mike Richards, said ‘a number of serious problems’ were found during visits to the hospitals with main concerns around the Worcestershire Royal and the Alexandra Hospital.
Smaller sites in Evesham and Kidderminster received more positive reports for the services they provide.
Among the criticisms was the maternity services staffing ratio of one full time midwife for every 30 births which met WAHT targets but was well below the recommended national minimum standard of one midwife for every 28 births.
Shockingly, inspectors found no child abduction policy was in place to guide staff in what to do in such circumstance.
“We were informed that they were in the process of reviewing their safeguarding children’s policy and the revision would include guidance relating to abduction,” the report said.
Another criticism was a claim the trust ‘lacked a systematic approach to reporting, management and analysis of incidents’.
Trust bosses appeared to blame staffing issues on the current Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire review, with both bosses and staff expressing concerns.
“A delay in the decision about the future service configuration was impacting on recruitment and services, rendering some services fragile with an over-reliance on agency locum staff,” the report stated.
Despite the criticisms, care in the maternity and gynaecology services was hailed as ‘outstanding and compassionate’ and good practice was also noted in the critical care unit, end of life service, surgery and in medical care.
Inspectors said pregnant women reported being treated with dignity and respect while ‘exceptional care was observed’ in the early morning on Avon 4 ward at Worcestershire Royal.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “My inspection team found that the majority of staff were hard working, passionate and caring but had to struggle against the pressures they faced.
“One of the reasons we rated the trust as inadequate for being well-led and safe was because when things went wrong they were not investigated promptly or thoroughly and there was a lack of learning from these incidents to prevent patient harm in the future.
“This was particularly the case in the maternity and gynaecology service,” he added.
As a result, the Trust will now receive outside help in a bid to tackle the issues raised by the CQC’s report.
* TRUST Interim Chief Executive Chris Tidman said ‘more work needed to be done’ after the CQC recommended WAHT be place in special measures.
Mr Tidman stressed many of the areas rated as ‘inadequate’ were services the Trust and its commissioners had already recognised as needing change.
He claimed the enhanced leadership and governance support provided to maternity and paediatric services since July, coupled with the recent decision to temporarily suspend birthing services at the Alexandra Hospital, had significantly reduced the risks with the services.
“They clearly recognised the challenges we were facing and the high level of care delivered by our staff across all areas of our services, rating all areas good with outstanding ratings for care in our maternity and gynaecology services,” he said.
“Everyone working at our hospitals will be very disappointed that overall we are rated as inadequate, especially following the efforts all our teams have made in the last four months since the inspection to improve our services.
“We still have a great deal of work to do especially around processes and procedures.
“We remain focused on continuing to improve.
“The added support from organisations in specific areas, as confirmed by the Trust Development Authority as part of the special measures arrangement, are welcomed and we look forward to the additional expertise these will bring,” he added.
Mr Tidman said the trust would continue to review where other support may be of assistance.
WAHT chairman, Harry Turner said: “Since the inspection visited us, all of our teams and staff have worked relentlessly to make further advancements so that we can continue to deliver quality safe care for our patients.
“This is something we will continue to drive over the coming months,” he added.