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Significant concerns raised over safety of hospital and care services

Regulator find safety problems at three quarters of hospitals and over 40% of care services inspected

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Safety problems are rife throughout NHS and care sectors the Care Quality Commission has revealed in its new annual State of Care report, which draws together findings from its new rating system across all the sectors it regulates.

The report shows that the regulator has rated safety as inadequate at 13% of hospitals, 10% of adult social care services, and at 6% of GP practices and out-of-hours services inspected. Once those organisations judged not safe enough were also taken into account, safety was highlighted as a problem at 74% of hospital trusts visited under the CQC’s new inspection regime, 43% of care and nursing homes and home care services, and 31% of GP services.

The data cover the first 14 months of the inspection programme, which was launched in April 2014. So far, more than 5,000 organisations have been inspected - nearly half of hospitals, 17% of care services and 11% of GP surgeries and out-of-hours providers. However, those deemed to be risky organisations have been targeted first.

Lack of staff, in terms of skills and numbers, was identified as a major issue, and the way that medicines were managed and how mistakes were investigated and learnt from were also highlighted as problem areas.

David Behan, chief executive of CQC, said: "The variation in care that we have observed is not just about the money. Good leaders are what make the difference – leaders who engage staff and people who use services and create a culture of continuous quality improvement... What is very clear is that isolated working and incremental changes are not going to be enough to meet the challenges ahead."

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Leaders must be supported to deliver safe patient care and to transform the way we deliver care. This must be accompanied by an end to the ‘toxic’ environment that is creating a revolving door of NHS leadership, which is bad for the health service, and bad for patients. The CQC have a role to play here, as do NHS England and NHS Improvement.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The safety of patients should be the primary concern of all healthcare professionals and good quality healthcare is the right of all NHS users. The CQC highlights concerns that we regularly receive calls about on our Helpline, namely that there is a failure to investigate complaints properly and to ensure that these incidents do not happen again. For change to occur this must be the focus of all NHS services going forward.”

The report points out that many trusts do not have the right quality of staff, Ms Murphy added. “It is also noticeable that the high achieved Trusts and those that succeed work in collaboration with others, involve and engage their most valuable asset – their staff. They listen and they work in partnership.”

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