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Healthcare regulator says University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust 'requires improvement'.


The biggest NHS trust in England has been told by regulators that it requires improvement amid concerns about patient safety.

Health and care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited three sites run by University Hospitals Birmingham in June this year (2021).

Inspectors said that there were "concerning disparities" in processes across the hospitals, and some staff said their concerns about patient care were not listened to. The trust's overall rating was downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

The regulator looked at urgent and emergency care at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital Birmingham, and Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield. Some cancer services were also inspected.

Following the visit, CQC inspectors made the same judgment for the criteria of whether care was safe and responsive to people's needs.

Inspectors said that the emergency department at Heartlands was under significant pressure at the time of their visit. Patients waiting to be seen were not always monitored effectively, and safety checks on equipment were not always completed.

The inspectors said that said they also discovered appropriate actions were not consistently taken to ensure patient safety where a shortage of space led to patients waiting outside on ambulances, despite staff raising concerns.

Although emergency departments at QE and Good Hope performed better, emergency staff across the trust told inspectors that leaders held them responsible for risk and performance measures and did not appreciate these were part of a whole system.

CQC deputy chief inspector, Fiona Allinson, said that, despite unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, the workforce remained "unwavering in its focus on the needs of patients."

She said: "We saw that patients were treated with compassion and kindness, and there were some areas of good and outstanding practice - particularly in cancer services at QE."

The trust's rating for being well led was changed from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ and it maintains a ‘good’ rating for providing caring and effective services.

The trust's chief executive, David Rosser, said he was pleased the CQC recognised the "incredible efforts" staff made during the pandemic "in the face of by far the highest number of hospitalised patients in the country.

"The findings of the report reinforce challenges we are aware of and are actively addressing, particularly in supporting our emergency departments. Sadly, and despite the herculean efforts of the team, patients are now waiting longer to access care.

"The trust is already implementing plans to tackle these waits which include increasing the hospitals’ capacity and transforming how we deliver care."