One of the UK’s best-known private health clinics has been rated “inadequate” for safety due to concerns over nurse staffing levels.
The Priory Hospital in Roehampton, which is famed for treating celebrities like Lily Allen, Johnny Depp and Amy Winehouse, was issued with an official warning notice about staffing levels by the Care Quality Commission.
“We were very concerned about the safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm”
However, Priory Healthcare, which runs the hospital, has questioned the CQC’s findings on staffing, claiming safe staff-patient ratios have been maintained.
CQC inspectors, who rated the hospital “requires improvement” overall, also raised serious safety concerns about patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.
Their visit in October last year followed a previous inspection in early 2016, which found “insufficient staff employed and deployed at the hospital to ensure the safety and consistency of patient care”.
When inspectors returned, they said they found there were still high vacancy rates for nurses across the hospital and particularly in the eating disorder service.
“This resulted in high use of bank and agency staff and there were also a significant number of shifts with below safe staffing levels,” said the CQC’s inspection report, published yesterday afternoon.
The inspectors found the hospital’s own records showed there were more incidents on shifts with insufficient staff at Priory Court, the hospital’s eating disorders unit for children and teenagers.
“We remain fully committed to making improvements for the benefit of all of our patients”
There had been 95 incidents at Priory Court in the six months prior to the inspection.
Across the hospital site, there was a 47% turnover of staff in the last year, according to the regulator’s report. Some staff told CQC inspectors that “morale on some of the wards was low due to staffing issues”.
However, the inspectors also acknowledged that efforts were being made to fill posts, with nursing vacancies reducing from 31 to 14 since March 2016
“The ward managers told us they had sufficient authority to make decisions about staffing levels and felt supported by the clinical services directors,” said inspectors, who attended one of the “flash” meetings that take place at the hospital every weekday morning where staffing levels are reviewed.
Concerns about the safety of patients at risk of suicide and self-harm were raised at the hospital’s previous inspection. Not enough had been done to address the risks, particularly on acute wards, said inspectors after their most recent visit.
They found the hospital environment remained unsafe “due to poor sight lines, ligature anchor points, and access to vacant corridors and staff offices” where patients could not be observed.
Meanwhile, the regulator said risk assessments of the safety on wards were “not sufficiently robust to include all areas of high risk”.
It noted that the hospital had introduced “safer rooms” to accommodate higher risk patients, but that these were not yet completed at the time of the inspection.
Dr Paul Lelliott
“When we inspected the Priory Hospital in October 2016, we were very concerned about the safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm,” said Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector and mental health lead at the CQC.
“The hospital must ensure it can meet the needs of patients they choose to admit whilst improvements to staffing and the environment take place,” he said.
“We did, however, find some improvements and noted the provider had implemented a pre-admission risk assessment,” he said. “This included a handover system for ensuring staff noted risks.”
Dr Sylvia Tang, chief executive of Priory Healthcare, maintained that services at the Priory, Roehampton were safe.
“Roehampton is a safe hospital providing high quality care and treatment and we remain fully committed to making improvements for the benefit of all of our patients,” she said.
She said inspectors had visited while a £1.2m improvement programme was under way and that it included trials of a new patient monitoring system.
“It is disappointing that we have been re-inspected part-way through this programme when there were works in progress which have now been completed,” said Ms Tang.
“Similarly, we question the CQC’s findings in relation to staffing. Our rotas show that appropriate staff-patient ratios have been maintained and, over the last year, we have reduced the vacancy rate for nurses by more than 50%, despite a national shortage of nurses.”
Hospital favoured by celebrities warned over staffing levels
Jane Stone, director of nursing at the Priory Group, told Nursing Times that the organisation had “worked extremely hard to attract the best nurses to all of our hospitals”.
“Apart from a wide range of attractive financial and lifestyle incentives, including loyalty bonuses and flexible working, staff can work across multiple disciplines within our mental health facilities,” she said.
Other measures include a new professional development programme for nurses and the organisation is also launching a “preceptorship academy”.
“We offer established career paths for healthcare assistants wanting to move into nursing, and we also have opportunities for nurses wanting to move into ward and site leadership and management, and senior clinical positions,” added Ms Stone.
CQC rates Manchester private hospital ’inadequate’
The Care Quality Commisison has published his findings on the standards of treatment and care provided by Oaklands Hospital, an independent hospital in Salford.
CQC has rated the hospital as “inadequate”, following an inspection in October 2016. Oaklands Hospital, which is run by Ramsay Health Care, provides surgery, outpatients and diagnostic imaging services such as x-rays.
The CQC found safety was not a sufficient priority at the hospital. Standard operating procedures and processes designed to keep people safe were not always followed.
Patients were also at risk of avoidable harm during surgery, because on some occasions anaesthetists did not provide them with the expected level of care.
In addition, most staff in the theatre and in the recovery area did not have the correct level of training to care for patients in the event of a respiratory or cardiac arrest.
Medicines and other substances were not always stored safely, added the CQC. Controlled drugs were not managed safely and were managed contrary to legislation and national guidelines, said the regulator in its report.
The CQC said it was working closely with Salford Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure the safety of people using the service and have served Oaklands Hospital with warning notices for the areas where they are breaching regulations.
The hospital is required to respond to these warning notices and tell CQQ how they are going to meet these requirements.
Ramsay UK chief executive Mark Page said: “I am confident that the new hospital management team and the staff of Oaklands, together with clinical governance support from Ramsay UK has implemented significant improvements since this time.
“While there can be no denying the seriousness of the issues which need to be fixed, we were pleased that the CQC report rated Oaklands Hospital good in the area of caring, and highlighted that our staff treated patients with kindness and respect,” he said.