Care Quality Commission inspectors have found “no evidence” to support widely reported allegations of unsafe care made by a group of midwives at Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust, according to a report published last week.
The trust received an overall “good” rating from the regulator, while its accident and emergency department was rated “outstanding” – the first A&E to be rated this highly under the CQC’s new ratings system.
As revealed by Nursing Times earlier this month, City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group is reviewing claims made by an anonymous group calling themselves the “unhappy midwives” about patient safety and workforce issues.
The CQC’s report said the regulator itself had been in contact with the group since 2012 over “allegations of racism and poor leadership, not only of the maternity services, but of the trust as a whole”.
“They had also raised allegations about the trust covering up avoidable deaths of newborn babies,” the report noted.
But its inspectors “found no evidence to support allegations of racism or poor leadership”, the report said.
“We’ve told the trust it must make some changes – most notably in ensuring there are always enough staff on duty on the medical wards”
Staff told inspectors they felt valued and enjoyed working in the trust, while patients said they felt cared for and had faith in the staff looking after them.
Inspectors did, however, warn there was sometimes a shortage of staff on medical wards. The trust should also takes steps to ensure all patients and their relatives were involved in “do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” decisions, it said.
CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “We identified a great deal of good practice at Homerton University Hospital – most notably in the A&E, the first to be rated as outstanding after one of our new style inspections.
“I am sure that other hospitals might benefit by looking at what this trust is doing to try to reduce A&E attendances when people would be better off receiving treatment or care within the community.”
For example, the trust has introduced the role of a non-clinical “navigator”, who helps patients attending its Primary Urgent Care Centre to register with GP – avoiding the need to attend A&E.
“Despite our findings being generally positive, there were some areas in which we’ve told the trust it must make some changes – most notably in ensuring there are always enough staff on duty on the medical wards,” he said.
“The trust has told us they will take action – and we’ll return in due course to check that these changes have been made,” he added.
Trust chief executive Tracey Fletcher said: “The recognition of the services provided by our A&E team, and its achievement in being one of the first departments to be rated as ‘outstanding’, is particularly pleasing.”