Patient FAQs following latest CQC Report
What is happening at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and why?
In November and December 2016, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out inspections of our hospitals. The CQC is the organisation responsible for making sure that health and social care in England provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, good quality care. CQC does this by monitoring, inspecting and regulating services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety. The CQC rated the care provided by our hospitals as ‘good’, but it found enough areas that needed improvement that it recommended the Trust remains in ‘special measures’ to help ensure the improvements are made.
What does ‘special measures’ mean?
‘Special measures’ are recommended by the CQC and include a range of interventions NHS Improvement can take to help foundation trusts, NHS trusts and independent providers deliver improvements. They do this when a hospital or provider isn’t providing the quality of care patients need or deserve, and where there is concern that the existing management cannot fix the problems on their own. ‘Special measures’ involve an intensive package of support to help trusts improve their performance and the care they deliver. The Trust has been in ‘special measures’ since November 2015.
What does this mean for patients? Is it safe to come to the hospital?
Yes, the CQC and NHS Improvement – the two organisations responsible for regulating quality in NHS hospitals – both say that it is safe to be treated in a hospital that is in ‘special measures’. Patients are still seen and treated in hospitals that are in ‘special measures’. The difference is that hospitals in ‘special measures’ aren’t considered to be delivering high quality care consistently in all areas, all of the time. Being in ‘special measures’ means they receive support to make the improvements needed, and are monitored by the regulators to help ensure the improvements are made.
While we have many areas for improvement, and are working to address them, patients can be reassured by the fact that the CQC acknowledges that we are a caring organisation. It rated the care across our hospitals and services as ‘good’. The inspectors said that services were provided by dedicated, caring staff, and that patients were treated with kindness, dignity and respect and were provided with the appropriate emotional support. Our staff continue to deliver compassionate care to the thousands of patients who use our services every day.
Should I wait for my operation or treatment until the hospital is out of special measures?
No. Patients should not be put off seeking advice or receiving treatment because of this. Patients should continue to attend our hospitals for appointments, operations and treatment as planned.
Can I go to a different hospital for my treatment?
All patients in the NHS can choose to have their treatment in a different hospital if they wish. However, this might delay your treatment, and there is no reason to go elsewhere simply because the Trust is in ‘special measures’. As stated above, thefact that a hospital is in ‘special measures’ does not mean that it is unsafe. It means that it needs to make improvements to bring all its services up to an acceptable standard.
What actually happens to hospitals and trusts that are subject to special measures?
There are a range of actions that can be taken under special measures:1. A hospital or foundation trust that is high-performing in the relevant areas can partner with the underperforming trust. This partner will help the hospital and its health services to improve.2. An action plan is written by the trust in discussion with the regulator and local commissioners. It contains details of what improvements are needed and the progress that has been made. Trusts regularly update it with details of the progress they’ve made.3. An improvement director is appointed to monitor the trust’s progress as it works to achieve the specific steps set out in the action plan.
Why has this situation come about?
It is impossible to point to one reason, but for some time the trust has had problems recruiting staff, especially at senior level and has had to rely on interim and agency staff. A permanent leadership team, including a new Chairman and Chief Executive, is now in place. They are building on and strengthening the Trust’s improvement plan and the leadership team and staff are committed to working to make the improvements recommended by the CQC, and ensure that all our services deliver high quality care to patients all the time.
What is the Trust doing to improve the situation?
We are building on and strengthening our improvement plan. Everyone across the organisation is focused on making the changes in quality for our patients. In particular, we are working with staff to help us address the issues the Care Quality Commission has raised, and making quality improvement part of daily business for all our staff.
We are determined to move forward with pace and focus so we can consistently deliver high quality standards for patients across all our services for example we have:
- Updated our plans for dealing with significant peaks in the number of patients we see, particularly so patients have a better experience at busier times
- Updated our policy and the way we ensure male and female patients are treated in separate areas when clinically appropriate to do so, making sure we focus on their privacy and dignity
- Improved our systems and processes to make sure medicines are stored correctly and all staff receive full training around administering medicines safely
- Ensured we learn from mistakes when they do occur; with robust systems in place for reporting incidents, and improved induction and training for staff – as per best practice in other hospitals
- Ensured staff have received appropriate levels of training to care for the specific needs of children
- Ensured patients with fractured hips quickly receive the appropriate surgical treatment for their condition in our theatres which improves their experience and their outcomes from surgery
- Introduced a system for senior nurses when they lead audits and reviews on professional standards, to make sure these are consistent across the Trust
- Launched a Trust wide dementia strategy to support staff to better care for the needs of patients with dementia
- Ensured patients with urgent gynecological problems are fast tracked so they are seen quickly and offered the appropriate treatment as soon as possible for their condition
- Implemented new processes to our electronic systems, working with the Regional Safeguarding Board to ensure appropriate levels of safeguarding is in place for children in our care.
How can I find out more about what is happening?