Healthcare regulators must have teeth and be seen to emphasise patient safety, the Royal College of Nursing has said in the light of care failings at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust.
A damning Care Quality Commission report has instructed the trust to work with foundation trust watchdog Monitor to cut death rates, tackle infection control lapses, and improve quality of care.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “The regulators are following due process but the public need confidence that they have teeth to take prompt and decisive action where necessary, including more unannounced inspections.
“It is clear that failures in leadership have resulted in patient safety being compromised at Basildon,” he said.
In its response to the CQC report, Unison called for the Basildon foundation trust to be taken back under NHS control.
Unison head of health Karen Jennings said: “The Health Act, which received royal assent this month, gives the health secretary the power to take a failing foundation trust hospital back into direct NHS management. This new power must now be used.
“To help restore public confidence in the hospital, we need a public enquiry, to give staff, patients, and their families the opportunity to help improve standards of care,” she added.