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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Watchdog’s new West Cumberland Hospital bombshell

SHORTAGES of nursing and medical staff mean care and treatment at West Cumberland Hospital have not always been provided safely – says a report out today.

By Gillian Ellison

Patient watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), says the major difficulties in staff recruitment is impacting significantly on the Whitehaven hospital and urgently needs addressing.

And the hospital’s maternity service was described as “not sufficiently safe”.

They are among a number of serious concerns highlighted today across the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

Staff, however, are said to be caring and committed and the trust has also been praised for significant improvements in some areas.

The news is part of today’s announcement that the Trust overall “requires improvement” and will remain in “special measures”.

It was one of 11 trusts placed in special measures a year ago as part of the national Keogh review into shocking death rates across a number of hospitals.

The Whitehaven and Carlisle hospitals were re-inspected earlier this year and today’s report is its findings.

In its individual report, under the subject of safety, the West Cumberland Hospital was inadequate – the lowest rating – as a result of issues surrounding medical care and outpatients.

The maternity service at West Cumberland Hospital was “not sufficiently safe” and had identified its own risks and was monitoring performance, said the report. It said risks included the lack of dedicated medical staff cover, lack of regular identified clinics and the use of locums which “impacted on the service’s ability to respond in a timely manner”.

The Whitehaven hospital’s critical care and end-of-life care were both rated good.

Overall the trust was found to require improvement in areas of safety, effectiveness, being responsive and leadership. It was rated good for its caring staff who treated patients with compassion, dignity and respect, and who are caring, committed and supportive.

A lack of effective honest communication from middle and senior managers as well as staff being fearful of raising issues with managers was a particular concern from inspectors regarding the trust as a whole.

A number of recommendations have been made from the CQC which include:

addressing staffing shortfalls

ensuring an anaesthetist is available at all times for maternity at West Cumberland Hospital and a second theatre for obstetric and gynaecology use

an open and transparent culture through honest communication from managers with staff

ensuring procedures to support safe practice are robust

improve waiting times in A&E

support outpatients.

There have been some significant improvements at the trust, says the report, which include reducing death rates, which are now within expected limits, and in infection control, with both hospitals found to be clean throughout.

The trust will be re-inspected in the next few months to ensure improvements continue to be made.

Ann Farrar, trust chief executive, said they were pleased with examples of good services and that the care and compassion of staff had been recognised. She also said many areas of concern were already being addressed.

She said: “Problems, such as those linked to recruitment, will require NHS system wide solutions to ensure we can sustain services at West Cumberland Hospital and this must be addressed in the development of our five years strategies with NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group.

“We are under no illusions on the work that still needs to be done, however our staff, patients and the public should take confidence in today’s CQC report and the significant progress which we have made in the past 12 months to bring our mortality rates to within expected range and improve quality of care – this progress should not be underestimated is again down to the hard work and sheer determination of all our staff.”

Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, said: "The findings of the CQC inspection will surprise nobody. I want to make it absolutely clear that the staff at the West Cumberland Hospital are holding our services together in the face of a calamitous, damaging reorganisation of the NHS by the government that saw £3.5billion taken out of front line care and spent on a back-office reorganisation.

"This caused chaos and it deeply damaged services. Our Trust needs more political attention, it needs more support, not less and I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that our community, our hospital and our excellent hospital staff receive this support."

Have your say

Well done Jamie Reed finally getting out of the office,you are quick to call the goverment for their money cuts but you failed to mention this was caused by the banking fiasco on labours watch,old politics and the old blame game,the problem is people are sick of these partys bickering and blaming each other,people know the truth,thats why other party's are now applying pressure on you by landslide victories,stop making excuses and find a solution.

Posted by James O on 16 July 2014 at 11:01

Not surprised a all with these latest findings: the trust will have you believe they are 'open & honest' about them, true that they have to be, but there's a hidden agenda here too: it serves a purpose. They want to eventually close this hospital, or at very least scale it down massively and by publishing articles like this no patient will feel safe in that place. The fact is, Carlisle, where the trust would like everything centred, is no better, in some cases more shambolic than WCH. You can see what this overpaid management are trying to do a mile away, through fog.
Time to have a clean sweep and get rid of these managers who are clearly failing the people of this area: how long would anyone else in another industry expect to remain employed and enjoying a huge salary with that track record?
The managers are paid to manage, they are not, so get rid.
As for our MP Jamie Reed, he's been involved in he consultation process over services at WCH since the outset, he should have been making more noise long before its too late.

Posted by Keith Ross on 14 July 2014 at 10:36

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