England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended special measures to be put in place at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after a Care Quality Commission report resulted in the Trust receiving a rating of Inadequate.
The Trust, encompassing Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Rosie Hospital, is one of the country’s biggest with over 1,000 beds. The CQC identified a number of areas that needed to be improved to ensure it was consistently delivering care which was safe, effective, caring, and responsive to people’s needs.
The inspectors found a significant shortage of staff in many areas, including critical care services. This meant staff were covering numerous services with the gaps plugged by bank of agency staff. Many staff members were, as a result, working in areas where they lacked the sufficient training, although the CQC have indicated that the Trust has already taken steps in this matter.
The pressure on surgical services often resulted in routine operations being cancelled and patients waiting longer for operations. The longest wait for a first appointment for ophthalmology, for example, was 51 weeks.
Although there were some excellent maternity services, pressures led to regular closures and inspectors highlighted serious concerns. This included high levels of nitrous oxide were detected in the Rosie Birthing Centre; an issue which senior managers had apparently been aware of for over two years. However, the only action taken to address this risk was to advise staff to open windows where possible. The situation is expected to be resolved by December and staff have been given guidance on minimising exposure.
There was a disconnect between what was happening on the front line and the senior management team. Staff satisfaction was poor and plans to support staff and improve the culture were not robust.
CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “We found a number of serious problems when we inspected the services run by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and I have made a recommendation to Monitor that the trust should be placed into special measures.
“We made Monitor aware of our concerns following the inspection and it has begun to work with the trust to make sure these are appropriately addressed and that progress is monitored.
“The trust managers have told us they have listened to our inspectors’ findings and have begun to take action where it is required. We have maintained close contact with the trust since the inspection and will undertake further inspections, including unannounced visits to check that the necessary improvements have been made.”