Inspectors did not refer 'uncaring' Whipps Cross staff to NMC
Care Quality Commission inspectors who witnessed “unacceptable behaviour” at Whipps Cross Hospital failed to refer any staff to their professional regulators, Nursing Times has learnt.
The CQC said inspectors made their concerns about individuals known to Barts Health Trust, which runs the hospital, but the trust has confirmed no staff have been suspended or referred to their professional regulators.
The inspectors visited Whipps in June and highlighted serious care failings including that some staff “failed to be compassionate and caring”.
In their report, published earlier this month, they said: “We saw examples of people being treated in an uncaring way…We saw examples of poor care, unacceptable staff behaviour.”
In one incident – reported widely by the national media – a woman in a blood stained gown was found crying in the corridor was spoken to in a sarcastic manner by a midwife when she complained of being in pain.
In another incident, a doctor was observed wearing the same gloves between patients and refused to give their name when asked to do so.
A memorandum of understanding between the CQC and the Nursing and Midwifery Council states that the commission will refer to either body “any concerns and relevant information about a registered nurse or midwife, which may call into question his or her fitness to practise”.
It adds that: “In the interests of patient safety, the referring organisation will not wait until its own review or investigation has concluded.”
The CQC has a similar agreement with the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors.
Better co-operation and information sharing between regulators has become an increasing focus for attention following the high-profile failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
A spokesman for the CQC told Nursing Times that “first and foremost” it was the responsibility of the trust to raise concerns with the professional body, but noted: “CQC will refer if it deems appropriate to do so.”
A spokeswoman from Barts Health Trust said it was made aware of the identities of the individuals mentioned in the CQC report, but confirmed no staff had been suspended or referred to either the GMC or NMC.
She added: “An investigation was undertaken; the individuals were formally spoken to and made aware of the CQC findings. Mechanisms have been put in place to ensure skills and competencies are identified and have been addressed.”
Sarah Page, director of fitness to practise at the NMC, said appropriate referrals were needed to protect the public from nurses and midwives who posed a risk to patients.
“Sometimes incidents of misconduct, lack of competence or bad character – though a breach of the code of conduct – can be dealt with locally through disciplinary procedures and employer action. “However, if there is a risk of patient harm or a concern that the midwife or nurse’s behaviour cannot be remediated, we would expect to receive a referral,” she said.
“We continue to work with other regulators to be sure we are alerted to issues as necessary,” she added.
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