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Kent private hospital rated as 'inadequate' by regulator

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A private hospital in Kent has been told it must improve after being given the Care Quality Commission’s lowest rating for its standards of safety and leadership.

The CQC has told BMI Healthcare Limited that it must improve patient safety, especially around infection control and cleanliness, at BMI Fawkham Manor Hospital in Longfield near Dartford.

“The hospital was not following the correct safety systems and processes”

Edward Baker

Overall the hospital has been rated as “inadequate” after a comprehensive inspection last August and November.

As well as the overall rating, it was rated “inadequate” for being safe and well led, “requires improvement” for being effective and responsive, but “good” for being caring.

The inspection was brought forward because of information received by the regulator that raised concerns about the standard of governance at the site, said the CQC.

The BMI Fawkham Manor Hospital is an independent hospital that sees both private patients and NHS patients via Choose and Book, and views itself as a community hospital for the local population.

It has 30 available beds with two theatres and seven consulting rooms. Outpatient services are provided to adults and children aged over three.

Surgical specialities include orthopaedic, general surgery, gynaecology, urology, pain management, Ophthalmics, ENT, gastroenterology and plastic surgery.

Inspectors said they found that there were not effective systems in place to keep patients safe.

“We will not accept practices that fall short of the expectations that we have of the hospital”

BMI spokesman

Parts of hospital were visibly not clean, said the CQC, and there was evidence that staff were not complying with infection prevention and control policies, which put patients at risk of infection.

In addition, the management of processes and risk was judged to be limited. Senior managers often made an assumption about the quality of care rather than actively seeking assurances, said the CQC.

Some patient records in outpatients were incomplete, as consultant notes were not always copied into them, noted inspectors in their report, which was published today.

The CQC report also identified a number of other areas for improvement. For example, the hospital was told it must maintain securely an “accurate, complete and contemporaneous” record on every patient.

It was also told it must ensure that care and treatment reflected current evidence-based guidance, standards and best practice, and that its staff followed patient pathways, policies and practices.

In addition, the provider must assure itself that risks are given sufficient priority, identified and lessened, and compile a hospital specific risk register and a process for monitoring this, said the CQC.

Professor Edward Baker, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for the South, said: “Overall, we have rated the service provided by BMI Fawkham Manor Hospital as ‘inadequate’, because of concerns around safety and leadership.

“Patients were at risk of harm, because the hospital was not following the correct safety systems and processes,” he said. “This needs to be addressed as a priority.

“While the provider, BMI Healthcare Limited, has focused some improvements in these areas, such as strengthening the leadership team at the hospital, we are not convinced yet that the changes are fully embedded,” said Professor Baker.

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Edward Baker

But he added: “In the main we found that staff were committed and delivered good care treating patients with compassion, dignity and respect.”

A spokesman for Fawkham Manor Hospital said the provider had been “working to address the areas” identified as needing improvement over the past six months since the CQC visit.

“This included closing the hospital for an extended period over Christmas while we invested £0.25m in theatre enhancements, strengthening the hospital management team and ensuring the correct safety systems and processes were fully implemented,” he said.

“The CQC has been supportive of the prompt action we have taken and has not placed any restrictions on the hospital,” he noted in a statement.

He added: “Patient safety is our absolute priority, and we will not accept practices that fall short of the expectations that we – and our patients – have of the hospital. Whilst we are disappointed with the CQC’s findings, we are pleased that the CQC also saw evidence of the commitment of our staff and the compassionate care they deliver to patients.”

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