University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust has been put into special measures after it was rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission.
The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, recommended to fellow regulator Monitor that the trust should enter special measures following an inspection in February, the reports of which are published today.
“The overall recruitment of nurses and doctors remains a fundamental concern, with too much reliance on temporary staff”
The CQC rated the trust’s safety and leadership at the as “inadequate”. Services at its Westmorland General Hospital were given an overall rating of “good”, but its other two sites, Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, both “required improvement”.
While care in some services, such as maternity and accident and emergency, had improved since previous inspections, other areas where the regulator had raised concerns “had still not been addressed effectively”.
The CQC identified staff shortages in medical wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital, and had “serious concerns” about nurse staffing levels on the critical care/high dependency unit at the latter site.
It also flagged deficiencies in nurses’ record keeping, incident reporting and the monitoring of clinical performance.
It said the trust “lacked a clear vision for its staff and that “three distinct cultures” operated at the trust’s hospitals. This left staff feeling “disengaged and remote from the executive team and the board”.
However, the CQC did say staff “worked hard to provide safe and compassionate care for patients” and rated the clinical effectiveness of services as “good”.
Sir Mike Richards said: “It is disappointing to report that a number of the issues that have been identified in the past remain unresolved.
“I do not believe that the trust is likely to resolve its challenges without external support. This is why I am recommending that the trust is placed in to special measures.”
Under special measures failing trusts are “buddied” with a high performing provider. They are also required to develop an action plan to turn around performance, with an externally appointed improvement director holding them to account for the delivery of their plan.
Sir Mike added: “I note that last year the trust made some progress in recruiting more staff but the overall recruitment of nurses and doctors remains a fundamental concern, with too much reliance on temporary staff in a number of wards and departments.
“While many patients we met told us of good and compassionate care from committed and professional staff, it was clear that in medicine staff shortages meant care was not always provided at a good standard.”
Morecambe Bay chief executive Jackie Daniel said: “We are all incredibly disappointed to receive the overall rating for the trust.
“The reports reflect the fact that we are part-way through a process of significant improvement, which is still going to take a number of years to complete.”
She added: “I believe that ‘special measures’ will provide the trust with focused support to make further change in a number of core areas, and we welcome this assistance.”
Problems at the trust became public after concerns were raised about a series of deaths of mothers and newborn babies at its Furness General Hospital between January 2004 and June 2013. They are currently being investigated by Dr Bill Kirkup CBE.
26 June 2014