Following the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal the Care Quality Commission introduced a more rigorous hospital inspection regime, with a view to preventing the failings all too apparent at that and other hospitals throughout England.
Three years after introducing the regime a Care Quality Commission review of all 136 hospital trusts in England found that 70% required improvement and a worrying 11% were found to have inadequate safety standards. In effect 80% are still failing to reach the required standard.
Whilst we are all aware of pressures on the NHS due to rising patient numbers and increased expectations, for those of us who are active in the field of patient safety, it is particularly concerning to note that there are a number areas where the issue is a fundamental failure in the standard of care including:
- Inadequate care for patients suffering life-threatening conditions such as sepsis and kidney injuries
- Insufficient hand hygiene leading to poor infection control and a failure to isolate patients with infections
- Poor medicine management, including administering out-of-date or incorrect medication
- A failure in maintenance of essential equipment
- Poor information-sharing and record-keeping
The report can be found on the CQC website and is damning in parts. As is noted by the CQC:
All hospitals told us that patient safety was their top priority, but too often they did not have an effective safety culture or reliable systems to ensure this. Many of the inefficiencies we saw can be avoided, such as hospital acquired infections, or are caused by poorly coordinated care”
Chief inspector of Hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards is reported to have said: “The NHS now stands on a burning platform. The need for change is clear, but finding the resources and energy to deliver that change while simultaneously providing safe patient care can seem almost impossible.”
Despite that challenge, some hospitals are achieving improvement. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust was rated as requiring improvement under the new regime in 2014. Two years later re-inspection resulted in an outstanding rating with the Care Quality Commission praising it for it’s safety culture.
There remains much room for improvement elsewhere. The lessons of Mid Staffs must not be forgotten. The headlong rush to cut Claimant legal costs, without regard for access to justice and patient safety could well reduce the ability to shine a light on poor practice.
If you or your family have experienced unacceptable care and wish to discuss what has happened please contact our specialist team on 0800 316 8892.