Regulators have said a failing foundation trust requires a ‘close tie-up with a long term partner’, after spending more than two years in special measures.
The chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, has written to the health secretary to recommend Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust remains in special measures following an inspection in June.
The Care Quality Commission’s report on its findings, published today, rates the trust “inadequate”. Concerns including over sepsis care, incident reporting and trust leadership led the inspectorate to reduce its rating from “requires improvement”, which it was given last year.
“The trust is now rated ‘inadequate’ for safety, effectiveness and being well led. This is extremely concerning”
The CQC and fellow regulator Monitor said in a joint statement that Sherwood Forest required a “close tie-up with a long term partner” in order to improve.
A Monitor spokesman would not specify what form such a partnership could take, but said “nothing is off the table”, including the possibility of takeover by another NHS provider.
The regulator has also appointed Suzanne Banks, previously nursing director at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, as interim director of nursing, and Eric Morton, also a former interim at Mid Staffordshire, as improvement director.
The East Midlands trust has been in special measures since summer 2013, when it was one of the first 11 organisations placed in the regime.
The CQC is required to inspect and make a recommendation to Jeremy Hunt on whether special measures should remain in place after 18 months.
It recommended North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, another of the first 11, stay in the regime earlier this year.
Sir Mike said: “Rather than getting better, our latest inspection shows a noticeable decline in ratings.”
The CQC said its inspectors found Sherwood Forest did not always report incidents in an open and transparent way.
The death rate for patients with sepsis, a potentially life threatening condition triggered by an infection, was found to be almost double the national average from April 2014 to February 2015.
“We are sorry we have let down our patients by not meeting the high quality standards they rightly expect”
Inspectors said that actions taken to address concerns had not reduced mortality. However, the trust continued to be rated “good” for whether its services were caring.
Sir Mike added: “The trust is now rated ‘inadequate’ for safety, effectiveness and being well led. This is extremely concerning, both in terms of the quality of care that people can expect from the trust, and for what it says about the trust’s ability to improve.
“This situation must not be allowed to continue,” said Sir Mike.
The trust has been ordered to carry out a number of measures to improve care, including ensuring staff receive appropriate training about sepsis.
Sherwood Forest acting chief executive Karen Fisher said: “We are extremely disappointed about the shortfalls the CQC has identified.
“We are sorry we have let down our patients by not meeting the high quality standards they rightly expect,” she said.
CQC and Sherwood Forest press statements
19 October 2015