Hinchingbrooke Hospital reveals 200 CQC report inaccuracies

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

Details of more than 200 inaccuracies in the Care Quality Commission report into Hinchingbrooke Hospital have been revealed.

Hisham Abdel-Rahman, chief executive of Hinchingbrooke, told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that inspectors, who rated the hospital as inadequate after a visit in September, had made 300 factual errors in their report, of which more than 200 had been admitted.

As part of the inquiry, the committee asked Hinchingbrooke and the CQC to send it a list of the inaccuracies.

The list, revealed last week, showed Hinchingbrooke Hospital reported 288 factual inaccuracies to the CQC, which admitted 215 – or 75 per cent.

Steve Melton, chief executive of Circle, said in his letter to the PAC there were six main reasons for the factual challenges, including misapplication of clinical guidelines, unsubstantiated or partial observation, broad conclusions from observations, wrong information, inflammatory language and typographical mistakes.

Amongst his examples, Mr Melton states a “most serious” allegation in the initial feedback was the hospital was sedating patients who lacked capacity to control them. Internal and independent investigation showed the sedation was in the patient’s interest, and their family was fully consulted.

“Despite there being no evidence of unsafe or abusive practice, the report still uses this example to help explain the unsafe rating for medical services,” Mr Melton wrote.

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The CQC also changed its statement that the hospital had a high number of patient falls to “The service had a lower than England average number of falls”, after a complaint.

Mr Melton said in the letter: “In the factual challenge, we argue that there are a number of statistical sources of information about Hinchingbrooke which were consistently given insufficient weight in the report. Trusts in special measures typically have high mortality, high complaint rates, high levels of hospital-acquired harm and high claims. It is beyond dispute that Hinchingbrooke has none of these characteristics.”

He added: “If we did have a systemic problem with care then we suggest the CQC’s own intelligent monitoring would have identified concerns – when it gave us a risk score at the time of inspection of three out of 182. It seems unusual that within 36 hours of the initial inspection the inspectors stated that almost all concerns were resolved.”

Mr Melton also said he didn’t understand why it took four months for the CQC to recommend the hospital be put into special measures.

David Behann, chief executive of the CQC, said there were 225 “applicable challenges” – after repeat challenges were removed – of which 65 per cent were either wholly or partially agreed.

“It is important to note that none of the changes made by CQC in response to the factual accuracy comments from the Trust were sufficient to lead to a change in the ratings at the subsequent National Quality Assurance Group (NQAG),” Mr Behann wrote.

“This contrasts with another recent inspection of an NHS hospital trust when, as a result of challenge we agreed to change three of the ratings. In this case, despite the number of issues raised by the trust, the NQAG did not feel that there, individually or in aggregate, was sufficient material to change the rating.”

The committee will publish its report in the coming months.