Medical negligence

NHS Trust must see ‘urgent improvement’ after CQC downgrading

An NHS Trust covering South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire has been downgraded by the CQC after concerns were raised around its governance, training and ability of staff to raise concerns.

22 May 2024

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the CQC following an inspection in response to red flags being raised about its quality of services.

The Trust, previously rated as ‘good’ overall, also saw its ratings for being effective, responsive and well-led downgraded to ‘requires improvement’ – the second lowest rank awarded by the CQC.

The recently-released report stressed the need for the Trust to ensure it has effective systems in place to monitor quality and safety, to identify where that is being compromised and “respond appropriately and without delay”. Its clinical audit processes and systems must also improve, said the report.

It also highlighted the fact that staff in its four hospitals – Bassetlaw District General Hospital, Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Montagu Hospital in Mexborough, and Retford Hospital – often felt they could not raise concerns.

CQC reported there were five whistleblowers who had raised concerns to them directly, and recommended in their report that the Trust must “ensure staff felt safe to speak up”.

The report also revealed issues in the Trust’s governance frameworks and controls, stating there were “areas of risk where assurance processes were not effective”.

“During our inspection we escalated several concerns regarding equipment, cleanliness, and management of medicines,” it said.

Training was also highlighted as a priority, and for greater support of staff in areas where there were greater pressures, due to challenges recruiting staff, financial restraints, and patient demand.

However, CQC did state that the Trust is working towards improvement in many areas, but must step up its efforts to deliver positive change for patients and staff alike.

“Patients need to know that the hospitals they and their family depend on for their care are delivering the best possible service with appropriate governance in place. Unfortunately those living in this Trust area do not have that,” says Jodie Cook, a senior associate and clinical negligence specialist at Slater and Gordon, who lives in Doncaster.

“As a local resident myself, this is of course very concerning, and the CQC report highlights a number of concerns which have resulted in the entire Trust being downgraded in its rating. This is not good enough and we need to see decisive action to tackle this.

“The need for urgent improvement is clear, not least in its ability to monitor quality and safety, which are absolutely vital factors in delivering care. It is also very concerning to see that staff do not feel able to raise concerns – we need better support in place for those on the frontline, to ensure the quality of service to patients is not being compromised and that staff welfare is a priority too.”

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