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Health service regulator finds evidence of racial discrimination and bullying at troubled trust.

Health service regulator finds evidence of racial discrimination and bullying at troubled trust.

A culture of bullying and racial discrimination has been found at a hospital trust, according to a health and care regulator inspection report.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said there was a bullying culture across Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust, with many staff too frightened to speak up.

The report said a number of the bullying cases were directly attributable to racial discrimination and the trust has been told it requires improvement.

The trust's latest staff survey showed the organisation was above average for black, Asian and minority ethnic staff experiencing bullying, the report said.

The CQC's head of hospital inspection, Sarah Dunnett, said they were told of bullying incidents that had not been addressed. She added: "We were concerned about the culture of bullying across the trust with many staff being too frightened to speak up."

She said the CQC would "monitor the service closely" to ensure changes were made.

Ms Dunnett said despite the concerns, inspectors saw examples of good practice, such as in surgery services, with high-quality patient care being offered. The trust was rated ‘outstanding’ for being caring and the overall rating for surgery remained ‘good.’

One black staff member told the BBC that the trust had lost talented staff as a result of its failings.

They said: "There's like a barrier at management level and most of us just can't get through it no matter how good we are."

A black woman member of staff, in her 50s, added: "Many of my fellow black colleagues feel we have been exposed to this 'hidden pandemic' of constant race discrimination. If we speak out, we're the problem."

The report highlighted several other areas in which the trust, which runs Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) and City Hospital, needed to make changes.

Inspectors found the board was not working effectively and had poor relationships, with some executive directors often working independently.

They said some leaders "lacked integrity", focusing on the trust's external reputation, rather than addressing challenges, and that many leaders were unaware of issues identified during an inspection of the trust's maternity services, which had existed since 2018.

They warned the trust to improve the quality of its emergency care. The report said one patient, who had reported to the department with back pain, had remained there for more than 15 hours because the spinal team had refused to accept him.

As a result of the inspection, made in June and July this year (2021) which looked at urgent and emergency services; surgery at the QMC and at the City Hospital, the trust’s overall rating has been downgraded from "good" to "requires improvement.”

Deputy chief executive at the trust, Rupert Egginton, said it was focusing on the standard of leadership. He said: "It’s our job, as leaders of the trust, to ensure the foundations of our organisation, our processes, governance, and learning from incidents, improve to allow our teams to provide safe, high-quality care within a positive, open and supportive culture."