The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has branded Oaklands Hospital in Salford ‘inadequate’.
Inspectors found patients were ‘at substantial risk of harm’ during surgery due to substandard levels of care from anaesthetists. Furthermore, investigations revealed it was ‘routine’ for neither an anaesthetist nor assistant anaesthetist to be present in the operating theatre for up to 20 minutes as staff would take breaks.
The CQC reported ‘this routine practice by the hospital’s anaesthetist staff exposed patients to an unacceptable level of risk’.
It was also discovered that most operating theatre staff at the Lancaster Road hospital were not trained to care for people who suffered a cardiac or respiratory arrest.
The hospital failed to act when serious concerns were previously raised.
Ellen Armistead, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals for the CQC, told the Manchester Evening News: “We rated this hospital overall inadequate. We served warning notices against the provider and the registered manager. This was because there was a failure to assess the risks to health and safety of patients and to take action to mitigate such risks.”
The facility was branded inadequate for safety and leadership, and requiring improvement for effectiveness and responsiveness. However, it was rated ‘good’ for caring.
Inspectors found a ‘culture of fear’ within operating theatres which resulted in staff not challenging unsafe behaviour.
Further failings included medicines being stored incorrectly, standard operating safety procedures were not always followed, and controlled drugs were not managed in keeping with national guidelines.
Last year, 5,000 inpatients were treated and more than 25,000 NHS patients were referred to the hospital. Despite this, substantial and frequent staff shortages have resulted in relying on agency and bank staff.
Two senior managers at the private hospital have since been let go following the damning report.
Ian Cohen, a clinical negligence solicitor at law firm Slater and Gordon, said: “The report from the CQC is very concerning, with a clear indication that patients’ lives have been put at risk due to very poor standards. The hospital failed to act when serious concerns were previously raised. The extent of the problem is highlighted by the fact that senior managers have been sacked as soon as the report was made public, but this in turn raises questions as to whether the hospital was able to govern itself and to maintain the required levels of patient safety.”