UPDATE: Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon to challenge damning CQC report

Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital. - Credit: Archant

Bosses at Hinchingbrooke Hospital will challenge the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) report which rated it as “inadequate”.

The hospital is to be paired with a “high-flying” trust after it was put in special measures following the CQC report, which gave it the worst rating possible, published hours after Circle decided to end the franchise agreement.

Inspectors, who visited in September, say three of the five categories – are services safe, caring and well-led? – were inadequate and the remaining two – are services effective and responsive? – required improvement.

Critical care, maternity, gynaecology, outpatients and diagnostic imaging were “good”.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, highlighted a number of key issues including the provision of care on Apple Tree Ward – which specialises in stroke care and rehabilitation – was inadequate and there were risks to patient safety.


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The report raised concerns about six interactions between agency staff and patients that were “neither emotionally supportive, nor demonstrative of compassionate care” and raised concerns about the response to call bells on a number of wards. In some cases it was so bad that two patients said they were told to soil themselves.

Prof Richards said: “We have informed the TDA of the breaches and it will make sure these are appropriately addressed and that progress is monitored through the special measures action plan.

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“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. This is the first time that CQC has rated a trust inadequate for ‘caring’.

“Our findings highlight the significant failings at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. They are not a judgment on the role of the private sector in the NHS or on franchise arrangements. Where hospitals are failing to promote good care, we will say so regardless of who owns and runs them.”

Other key findings were:

- Many instances of staff wishing to care for patients in the best way, but unable to raise concerns or prevent service demands from severely impinging on the quality and kindness of care for patients.

- There was a lack of paediatric cover in A&E and theatres that meant the care of children in these departments was, at times,increasing potential risks to patient safety.

- Infection control practices were not always complied with in A&E Apple Tree, Cherry Tree and Walnut wards and in the Treatment Centre.

- Medicines, including controlled drugs, were not always stored or administered appropriately in A&E, Juniper ward, Apple Tree ward or Cherry Tree ward.

There was praise for maternity and critical care wards, with staff focused on patients’ needs and inspectors singled out the paediatric specialist nurse in the emergency department and the chaplaincy staff for their work. Volunteers were also highlighted for praise.

The inspectors raised more than 30 areas for improvement.

Dr Hisham Abdel-Rahman, Hinchingbrooke chief executive, said: “Our ambition is to be a top-10 district general hospital.

“Anything less than that is cause for hard work to improve our services. We are always looking for ways to improve our care.”

A spokesman for Circle added: “We intend to request a ratings review.

“We believe the report was unbalanced and does not reflect the hospital.”

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