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Trust in special measures.

Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust has been recommended to be placed in special measures by England's chief inspector of hospitals after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection gave it an overall rating of ‘Inadequate’.

The inspection assessment, following five days at the hospitals in September 2014, is the first time that that CQC has rated a trust inadequate for ‘caring’.

The CQC judged the trust  ‘Inadequate’ with regard to whether services were safe, caring and well led. It was also rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ as to whether services were effective and responsive.

Particular concerns about Accident and Emergency and medical care were raised by CQC Inspection team which included doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital managers, trained members of the public, and a variety of specialists. Critical care, maternity and outpatients were all judged as good.

Chief Inspector of Hospitals, professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “We have informed the Trust Development Authority (TDA) of the breaches and it will ensure these are appropriately addressed and that progress is monitored through the special measures action plan.

“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. 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.”

CQC has given the trust areas to improve which include which include:

  • Providing safe care for children in A&E. A lack of paediatric cover within the A&E department and theatres meant that the care of children in these departments was, at times, potentially unsafe.
  • Making sure call bells are answered promptly. In particular, the CQC saw some patients who did not have call bells within reach.
  • Ensuring that patients’ had their food and drink needs met.
  • Ensuring patients’ needs are met. Six patients said they had experienced delays in receiving pain relief. They believed this was because there was not enough staff on duty.

Areas which the CQC said were good included good care in maternity and critical care which focused on patients’ needs and met national standards.  CQC also said that support chaplaincy staff gave to patients and hospital staff was outstanding.