You are here

We are carrying out checks at Royal Cornwall Hospital using our new way of inspecting services. We will publish a report when our check is complete.

Inspection Summary


Overall summary & rating

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is the principal provider of acute care services in the county of Cornwall. The Trust is not a Foundation Trust and performance is monitored by NHS Improvement (NHSI). The Trust serves a population of around 532,273 people, a figure that can be doubled by holidaymakers during the busiest times of the year.

CQC has previously carried out two comprehensive inspections at Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust. The first being in January 2014 when the trust was rated as requires improvement. In June 2015 we carried out a follow up to the first inspection and found the trust had not made sufficient progress in all areas and a second comprehensive inspection was initiated, which we carried out in January 2016. At that time, the trust was rated as requires improvement overall. We rated safe, effective, responsive and well led as requires improvement and caring as good.

CQC has previously carried out two comprehensive inspections at Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust. The first being in January 2014 when the Trust was rated as requires improvement. In June 2015 we carried out a follow up to the first inspection and found the trust had not made sufficient progress in all areas and a second comprehensive inspection was initiated, which we carried out in January 2016. At that time, the trust was rated as requires improvement overall. We rated safe, effective, responsive and well led as requires improvement and caring as good.

A further unannounced focused inspection was conducted on 4 and 5 January 2017. We reviewed end of life and urgent care services to review progress against the inadequate ratings for those core services as identified on the previous inspection in January 2016. We reviewed medicine services as continued intelligence had raised concerns with regards to quality and safety of the service. We also looked at the governance and risk management support for the services we inspected. We rated urgent care services as requires improvement, end of life care services and medicine services as inadequate. We did not rate the trust overall as a result of that inspection.

This inspection took place between 4 - 7 July 2017, and was a focused announced inspection. We undertook a further unannounced inspection on 17 and 18 July 2017. We revisited those core services that we had not inspected in January 2017, with the exception of sexual health. We did not revisit medicine or urgent care services, but we did revisit the safe and well led domains in end of life care. We also inspected governance and risk management support for those services we inspected.

This inspection also covered the following sites:

  • St Michaels Hospital (for surgery and outpatients and diagnostic imaging)
  • West Cornwall hospital (for surgery and outpatients and diagnostic imaging)
  • Penrice birthing unit (for maternity)

We had serious concerns that systems to assess, monitor, and mitigate risks to patients receiving care and treatment were not operating effectively. We also had concerns that governance systems and processes were not operating effectively. We served the trust with a Section 29A warning notice on 29 August 2017. The notice required the trust to make significant improvements by 30 November 2017. There were, however, a number of areas where the trust were required to give evidence of immediate action to ensure risks were being identified and managed in the interim. These included processes being in place for identifying and managing deteriorating women in maternity and systems and processes being in place to monitor and manage non-admitted cardiology and ophthalmology patients. Additionally the trust were required to provide evidence that there were two paediatric trained staff on duty at all times in the paediatric emergency department and that a risk assessment had been completed for paediatric staffing in the emergency department and obstetric theatres.

We rated Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust as inadequate overall. Surgery, maternity and gynaecology, end of life and outpatient services were rated as inadequate and critical care and children and young people’s services were rated as good. These ratings have been aggregated with the findings from the core services we inspected in January 2017.

Key findings:

Safe:

  • We rated safety as inadequate overall. Surgery, maternity and gynaecology and outpatients and diagnostic imaging were rated as inadequate, services for children and young people and end of life care were rated as requires improvement, and critical care was rated as good.
  • When concerns were raised in surgery or things went wrong, the approach to reviewing and investigating causes was unsatisfactory or too slow. There was little evidence of learning from events or action taken to improve safety. When something went wrong, patients or those close to them were not always told and did not always receive an apology.
  • The systems and processes for identifying, grading and managing incidents were not effective and were not conducted in a timely manner.
  • The threshold for incident reporting was high so not all incidents were reported. This was true in both maternity and gynaecology.
  • There was no evidence of oversight or scrutiny of incidents that related to end of life care at the trust. Therefore, there was no evidence of learning or changes in practice that had resulted from such incidents.
  • There was not a clear incident reporting process for staff to follow in the event of a delayed fast track discharge in end of life care. There was also no evidence of executive oversight of the problem caused by inconsistent reporting, and a lack of anyone with clear responsibility for the issue.
  • Incidents were not always reported promptly for outpatients. This impacted investigation timeliness and delayed potential learning opportunities.
  • Safety was not a sufficient priority. There was limited measurement and monitoring of safety performance. There were significant numbers of serious incidents or never events in surgery.
  • Staff did not always assess, monitor or manage risks to patients. Some opportunities to prevent or minimise harm were missed in surgery.
  • Changes were made to surgical services without due regard for the impact on patient safety. There were inadequate plans to assess and manage risks associated with anticipated future events or emergencies in both surgery and maternity.
  • Not all patients with severe sepsis had timely access to intravenous antibiotics.
  • Guidance for midwives in critical areas such as escalation of deteriorating women was sometimes conflicting. For example, the escalation instructions on MEOWS charts did not align with the guidance on the policy on managing the severely ill obstetric woman.
  • There was no dedicated high dependency area for deteriorating women and no process to ensure that that there was always a nurse or midwife on duty with the necessary competencies to manage high dependency women. The service did not monitor the number of women needing this level of care.
  • One theatre on the delivery suite had dedicated staffing. The contingency plans for using the second theatre in an adjoining room were not clearly understood and an additional theatre team was not readily available, which could result in delays and potentially a risk to women and babies. The process for opening and staffing the second theatre were not well communicated and practiced.
  • Risk assessment was poor at all levels. We saw inconsistent use of maternal early warning score (MEOWS) charts and partograms (a composite graphical record of key maternal and foetal data during labour) meant there was a risk that staff might miss signs of deterioration in a woman; on the postnatal ward emergency medicines had been taken off the ward because of the heat, without assessing the risk of doing this, should there be an emergency. Some risks such as staffing were not on the corporate risk register.
  • Other risks had not been identified or monitored, for example skills required of community midwives lone working in remote locations, suitability of the second obstetric theatre and staffing levels in the emergency paediatric department.
  • The delivery suite capacity was insufficient for the number of women giving birth with the result that women laboured on the antenatal ward several times a month, often without one-to -one care from a midwife for the whole of their established labour.
  • More women than the agreed number were being induced on some days, and these inductions were not planned to take into account activity or capacity on the delivery suite to ensure that induction was safe.
  • Ophthalmology and cardiology follow up appointment waiting lists were too long and patients were coming to harm through delays in treatment. The process for risk assessment was not sufficient to adequately protect patients from harm and there were no clear action plans to manage and reduce the backlogs.
  • There was a significant backlog in reviewing some cardiology 24 hour tapes which put patients at risk.
  • Patient identifiable information, including the results of pregnancy tests, was found in two unlocked sluice rooms on a surgical ward. Other patient identifiable information was found unattended and accessible to the public.
  • The different records about women in the maternity service were not linked. Women’s hand held records and hospital records, and safeguarding information were held on a separate database which made it difficult for midwives to have an overview of women’s health and social history.
  • There was not sufficient information or audit for the trust to be assured of the effective use of end of life care documentation. Audits did not address the quality or completeness with which the documentation was completed or understood, and did not contain any follow up action plans to address the issues raised.
  • Paper based patient records, including test results in outpatients were not stored securely.
  • Due to a different system in operation, the critical care unit did not use the electronic prescription charts used throughout the rest of the hospital. There had been some safety issues for patients discharged from the unit due to staff not always following the correct handover processes for medicines for the patient prior to their discharge.
  • Not all staff in the surgery division had received effective mandatory training in the safety systems, processes and practices.
  • Multiple mandatory training modules had not been completed by medical staff and therefore did not meet trust targets.
  • We could not be assured that community midwives had up to date skills. They did not have training to cannulate women, and not all were up to date with neonatal life support training. We could not be assured that community midwives had the necessary equipment to manage obstetric or neonatal emergencies in the community in the event that the ambulance was delayed.
  • Midwives required training and competency assessments in providing epidural top ups, in and in care of high dependency women. The overall 85% target set for training completion in maternity was lower than trust target for training completion of 95%.
  • Completion of some mandatory training was also below trust target for staff in children and young people’s services and required improvement.
  • Although safeguarding training compliance had improved in services for children and young people it remained a challenge and required continued improvement.
  • The emergency resuscitation team did not always have immediate access to a member of staff who was able to deal with difficult airway intubation in surgery.
  • The service did not always ensure there was adherence to the World Health Organisation (WHO) surgical safety checklist and audits of the checklist did not provide assurance of compliance.
  • Some equipment in surgery was not serviced, maintained, tested or calibrated.
  • During our inspection, we noticed the critical care unit was not completely free of dust.
  • Checks were carried out on the difficult airway trolley in critical care but were not permanently recorded.
  • There were insufficient waste bins on the critical care unit which increased the risk of contamination.
  • The antenatal ward was not secure. Open access to the Day Assessment Unit (DAU) which was combined with the antenatal ward was a safeguarding risk to women on the ward. There was also a risk to women’s privacy and dignity. These risks were not on the risk register.
  • There were environmental risks on the hospital site: the delivery suite had cracked flooring and worn baths which presented an infection risk and the postnatal ward was uncomfortably hot in summer, with trip risks from fans in corridors, and reported problems with drainage and insects. The ambient temperature of rooms where medicines were stored was not always measured.
  • There was no clear nursing observation area on the high dependency unit of the children’s ward and this represented a risk to children who were not visible to nursing staff at all times.
  • The fracture clinic was a risk to patients due its design, unregulated clinic temperature and poorly maintained furnishings. Arrangements to ensure children were safeguarded whilst in the department were not adequate.
  • Staffing levels in surgery were consistently under plan on most wards during the day.
  • Safety briefings did not always take place prior to the start of an operation or theatre list.
  • There were not enough midwives to provide a safe service in all areas at all times. Staff had to activate the escalation policy frequently to achieve safe staffing in the delivery unit. Staffing concerns were not on the risk register.
  • Safe skill mix in maternity was not always achieved. There was no system to ensure that there was always a midwife or nurse on the delivery suite with skills in caring for a woman needing high dependency care.
  • The handovers on the delivery suite were not multidisciplinary; there were multiple handovers several times a day, midwives to midwives and doctors to doctors at different times which were inefficient. Handovers did not clearly highlight risks. There were no safety briefs occurring in the maternity service.
  • There had been gaps in gynaecology on call cover which was a risk to women.
  • There were insufficient numbers of suitably qualified nursing staff in the paediatric emergency department to provide safe care at all times. There were also no formal processes in place to ensure appropriate cover was in place in the department at all times, particularly during periods when the qualified nurse was temporarily absent from the department.
  • The specialist palliative care team was too small to meet the demands of the trust as per national guidance. It was only able to provide a five day a week service, and even this stretched capacity of the team with limited cover arrangements to accommodate annual leave and sickness. This issue was reported upon following both the January 2017 and January 2016 inspections.
  • Treatment escalation plans were audited and consistently shown not to be completed fully, often missing essential information about whether patients had mental capacity to consent to the plan. Incomplete treatment escalation plans were reported on following both the January 2017, and January 2016 inspections.

However:

  • Staff were aware of their responsibility to report incidents in critical care and services for children and young people. The electronic reporting system had been improved since our previous inspection. Individual reporting of incidents specific to end of life care had improved since our last inspection and the ability of staff to identify such events was good in many of the areas we visited.
  • There was good engagement in morbidity and mortality meetings in surgery, which led to service improvement.
  • Surgery ward safety briefings held every morning were well attended, with good communication where safety concerns were aired openly.
  • There was an improvement month on month in the number of patients with an end of life care plan based on the five priorities of care.
  • Safeguarding was well-managed in maternity as part of an integrated hospital safeguarding team. New safeguarding paperwork had been introduced to improve the quality of safeguarding records and a database enabled midwives to check safeguarding referrals.
  • Staff we spoke with in services for children and young people were knowledgeable about the trust safeguarding process and were clear about their responsibilities.
  • Safeguarding policies and procedures were available to staff in outpatients who knew how to access and follow these.
  • A new electronic maternity information system due in October was planned which would enable more comprehensive records to be kept and improve the accessibility of information.
  • Nursing and medical records had been completed appropriately and in line with each individual child’s needs.
  • Medicines, including controlled drugs were stored safely in critical care, and accurate records of use were maintained.
  • Systems were in place in children and young person’s services for the safe storage and administration of medicines and appropriate audit trails were in place for controlled drugs.
  • There were effective arrangements in place around the prescription of anticipatory medications to ensure that end of life patients’ symptoms could be managed in a timely way.
  • Audit compliance scores for the cleanliness of the critical care unit environment were high, which reduced the risk of patients developing unit acquired infections.
  • Accommodation in maternity was visibly clean and equipment was well-maintained. There had been no incidents with a contributing factor relating to maintenance in the twelve months to June 2017.
  • The children and young people’s units were clean and well organised. Staff adhered to infection prevention and control policies and protocols.
  • Cleanliness and infection control were found to be well audited and compliant in outpatients. Staff adhered to infection control procedures.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) surgical safety checklists were used in the obstetric theatre and gynaecology theatres and we saw evidence of good compliance.
  • Equipment, such as syringe drivers and specialist mattresses were readily available for end of life patients who needed it.

  • Staff in maternity reported the quality of training was high. Funds had been secured and dedicated for enhanced training over the coming year

  • Nurse staffing levels on the critical care unit had improved and agency use had reduced since our last inspection. Further recruitment of nurses had taken place and was ongoing to ensure the critical care unit was compliant with the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Core Standards for nurse staffing levels.
  • Medical staffing levels had also improved and further recruitment was taking place at the time of our inspection.
  • There was 60 hours consultant cover on the delivery suite which met the recommendations of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for a maternity unit of this size.
  • We found the time taken for diagnostic images to be reported was maintained by increasing staffing levels to meet demand.
  • Areas we visited were proactively managing risks, both in and out of hours to meet the needs of patients who were at the end of life.

Effective

  • We rated effective as requires improvement overall. Surgery and maternity and gynaecology were rated as requires improvement, and critical care and services for children and young people were rated as good. We did not rate the effectiveness of the outpatients and diagnostics service.
  • Systems and processes for identifying, sharing and implementing new or updated guidance were not operating effectively.
  • Clinical audits across the trust were not always planned or carried out in a systematic or timely way to ensure compliance and identify risks or learning. Results of clinical audits were not always shared with relevant staff.
  • There was a maternity audit schedule for 2017 but no effective process to ensure that cyclical improvement was established and ongoing. Audit plans did not include audit of risks rated as high on the risk register. Changes were made in response to external factors and the service did not always plan these systematically.
  • Outcome data for outpatients was confused and prevented staff from measuring clinic performance.
  • We were not assured that all staff were up to date with recent guideline changes, particularly community midwives who did not have remote access to the guidelines. Some guidelines, such as the use of a partogram to show the progress of labour were not followed in many women’s deliveries.
  • Not all staff had up to date training to use specialist equipment and the system for monitoring competence was not effective.
  • Children and young people’s staff working in the community did not have access to the electronic records system used by another provider of community health care in the county. Staff said it was difficult to coordinate between the two systems and this could hamper delivery of effective care and treatment.
  • Post inpatient follow up reviews did not always take place, which may result in a patient being readmitted for further care and treatment.
  • There was limited support from some services at weekends, including pharmacy and physiotherapy.
  • There were gaps in management and support arrangements for staff in some areas, such as appraisal, supervision and professional development.

However:

  • We could see evidence from audits in some areas where the results triggered change, and evidence that some treatment provided was in line with best practice and national guidance, for example in critical care, gynaecology and children and young people services.
  • We saw strong relationships between most multi-disciplinary teams.
  • There was good compliance with NHS England’s standards for seven-day working in hospitals.
  • In critical care and children and young people’s services, patients had good outcomes as they received effective care and treatment which met their needs. High quality performance and care were encouraged and acknowledged and all staff were engaged in monitoring and improving outcomes

Caring:

  • Caring was rated as good overall and good for each core service.
  • In surgery feedback from patients and relatives was positive overall. For example, the NHS Friends and Family Test scores were mostly above 90% for surgical wards between March 2016 and February 2017. However, the response rate was only 11%, compared to around 25% nationally.
  • Patients and their families spoke almost entirely positively about the care they received while in the surgical division. Staff worked hard to uphold patients’ dignity, individuality and human rights. We observed staff acting in a respectful, kind and compassionate way to patients and those close to them.
  • Staff on the critical care unit were compassionate, kind and sensitive. Patients, relatives and visitors were complimentary about the compassion and kindness they had been shown.
  • Communication with patients was effective as they were kept informed of their condition, progress and treatment. Patients’ privacy and dignity was maintained throughout their treatment and staff took all steps to protect confidentiality.
  • Those close to patients in critical care were involved in their care and were kept updated on any progress or deterioration in condition.
  • Care delivered in maternity was kind and compassionate. Women we spoke with and their families spoke well of the care they received. Specialist midwives, helped women understand the specific needs of managing conditions such as diabetes alongside pregnancy.
  • The Friends and Family test results were generally good both in maternity and gynaecology.
  • Women had reasonable continuity of care before and after birth from a local team of community midwives which enabled them to establish trusting relationships.
  • Staff were kind and non-judgemental in the unplanned pregnancy unit.
  • Children and young people were treated as individuals and as part of a family. Feedback from children, young people and parents had been consistently positive. They praised the way the staff really understood the needs of their children, and involved the whole family in their care.
  • Parents said staff were caring and compassionate, treated them with dignity and respect, and made their children feel safe. Staff ensured children and young people experienced high quality care. Staff were skilled to be able to communicate well with children and young people to reduce their anxieties and keep them informed of what was happening and involved in their care.
  • Parents, siblings and grandparents were encouraged to be involved in the care of their children as much as they wanted to be, whilst young people were encouraged to be as independent as possible. They were able to ask questions and raise anxieties and concerns and receive answers and information they could understand.
  • We observed staff treating patients with kindness and warmth. The neonatal unit and the paediatric wards and the outpatient department were busy and professionally run, but staff always had time to provide individualised care.
  • Staff talked about children and young people compassionately with knowledge of their circumstances and those of their families.
  • Staff in outpatients adopted the “hello my name is” by way of introduction to all patients.
  • We found people were supported, treated with dignity and respect and were involved as partners in their care.
  • We observed outpatient receptionists talking to patients in a respectful way.
  • Patients told us nursing staff and doctors explained clearly what options were available to them.
  • Patients were empowered and supported to manage their own health, care and wellbeing.

However:

  • Some patients we spoke with in surgery did not feel well informed about their care, particularly in terms of when their operation was to take place.

  • The critical care unit was not using patient diaries but there were plans to introduce them later in the year.
  • There were no formal arrangements for counselling services in the critical care but the unit had developed close ties to the trust’s chaplaincy service which provided patients with spiritual support.
  • Although there was supportive care for women in maternity immediately around the time of bereavement, there was no follow up or counselling provided by hospital staff.
  • Women were less satisfied with their experience of care on the postnatal ward, particularly during the high temperatures that prevailed during our inspection.
  • Privacy and dignity was not always fully maintained as two delivery rooms on the delivery suite did not have blinds for privacy when the lights were on at night.
  • The fracture clinic cubicles were small and close together. Private and confidential conversations in adjoining cubicles could be overheard.

Responsive:

  • We rated responsiveness as inadequate overall. Surgery was rated as inadequate, critical care, maternity and gynaecology and outpatients and diagnostic imaging were rated as requires improvement and services for children and young people were rated as good.
  • Surgical services were planned to meet local needs but lack of capacity and resources meant that plans were not always delivered in a way which met patients’ needs.
  • The facilities and premises used did not always meet patients’ needs or were inappropriate, with admission lounges used for surgical and medical patients overnight.
  • Surgical patients were unable to access the care they needed at the right time, and referral to treatment times for incomplete pathways had been worse than average from March 2017.
  • Pressures from non-elective admissions and delayed transfers of care led to significant levels of cancellations of elective operations. Twelve patients with cancer had their operation cancelled from January to May 2017, seven on the day of their booked operation.
  • Patients were not always operated on in the correct operating theatres, and assessments to identify patient risks were not always carried out.
  • Patients did not always have access to services in a timely way for an initial assessment, diagnosis or treatment. Patients experienced significant waits for some services. A high number of patients were not treated within 28 days of their operation being cancelled at short notice.
  • There had been too many occasions when patients had to stay in recovery overnight because there were no available beds.
  • Due to the lack of capacity within the hospital for beds, critical care patients did not always receive optimal care at the right time. There were frequent delayed admissions, delayed discharges and discharges which took place out of hours.
  • At times, level two patients were kept in the recovery area following surgery instead of being admitted to the critical care unit, due to the lack of bed capacity on the critical care unit.
  • Patients were not always cared for in separate single sex areas due to patient flow issues.
  • The critical care unit did not routinely screen for patients living with dementia when admitted onto the unit.
  • In maternity there were regular delays in transferring women to the labour ward because of capacity on the delivery suite, both from limitations of accommodation and staffing.
  • The service did not run a dedicated elective caesarean list. This could mean woman scheduled for elective surgery had to wait if there was an emergency underway on the day they were admitted.
  • The day assessment unit only had two scanning slots a day. As a result, some women who attended for reduced foetal movements had to return for scanning on another day.
  • Not all women were able to give birth in the community as planned as there was a low threshold for transferring women into the main consultant led unit.
  • There was a risk to women’s privacy and dignity on the antenatal ward as some women gave birth on the ward. The ward did not have closed doors and was merged with the day assessment unit.
  • Few partners were able to stay overnight on the postnatal ward as space was limited.
  • Some maternity services had to be closed at times because of staffing, such as the homebirth service, birth centres, early pregnancy unit and emergency gynaecology unit.
  • There were long waiting times for referral to treatment for some (non-cancer) gynaecology procedures.
  • There were delays in completing discharge summaries on the children’s wards and performance required improvement.
  • The temperature in the neonatal unit was not always at a suitable level.
  • There were capacity and demand issues in ophthalmology and cardiology. These demands had led to increased waiting times and unacceptably long waits for follow up treatment.
  • Action plans put in place had failed to reduce the number of people waiting for follow up appointments in cardiology and ophthalmology.
  • The fracture clinic did not meet patients’ needs and issues identified following our January 2016 inspection continued.
  • Patient’s told us that directional and information signage for moving through the hospital were challenging.
  • The outpatients’ transformation programme had not managed to improve patent flow through the outpatient clinics.
  • There were a high number of cancelled appointments for avoidable reasons.
  • Not all outpatient clinics had been designed to be dementia-friendly.
  • The surgery service consistently missed targets to respond to complaints within 25 working days. There was little evidence to show lessons had been leaned and practice changed to demonstrate people who complained were listened to.

However:

  • There were good arrangements for supporting patients with a learning difficulty going into theatre.
  • The critical care unit had introduced measures to ensure patient flow in and out of the unit did not deteriorate. New systems for assessing bed capacity had been introduced which increased efficiency in the admission and discharge processes.
  • Since our last inspection a critical care matron had been appointed which had increased the profile of the unit at daily bed meetings. The coordinators were now more aware of the capacity issues on the unit, which assisted in securing beds for critical care patients to be admitted to.
  • The chief operating officer visited the critical care unit or had daily conversations with the critical care matron to assess the unit’s bed capacity.
  • Antenatal and postnatal services were provided in community locations as far as possible, reducing women’s need to travel to the hospital.
  • Women deemed low risk could choose to birth at home, at freestanding birth centres or at the hospital delivery suite.
  • Midwives assessed women’s mood during antenatal visits and were able to signpost women to sources of help for anxiety and depression.
  • The unplanned pregnancy service was discreet. Staff were non-judgemental and women gave very good feedback about their care and treatment. Women could access the service in both Truro and Penzance.
  • There was a good range of information leaflets for women with early pregnancy problems detailing ways of managing these.
  • Good use was made of Facebook to communicate with women and young people.
  • Services were tailored to meet the needs of individual children and young people and were delivered in a flexible way.
  • There were good facilities for babies, children, young people and their families.
  • The environment for the neonatal service had improved considerably with the opening of the new unit in May 2017. Staff had been involved in the design and planning phase of the development of the unit
  • There were no barriers for those making a complaint. Staff actively invited feedback from children and their parents or carers, and were very open to learning and improvement. There were, however, few complaints made to the service and those that had been made were fully investigated and responded to with compassion.
  • Children and young people of all ages had timely access to care and treatment
  • A new wide bore scanner was soon to be available to meet the needs of larger patients.
  • We found the time taken for diagnostic images to be reported was adaptable and managed demand.
  • Imaging was performing well and managing many of its key waiting times.

Well led:

  • Well led was rated as inadequate overall. Maternity and gynaecology, end of life care and outpatients and diagnostic imaging were rated as inadequate, surgery was rated as requires improvement and critical care and services for children and young people were rated as good.
  • The arrangements for governance and performance management in surgery did not always operate effectively. Risks, issues and poor performance were not always dealt with appropriately or in a timely way.
  • Not all leaders in surgery had the necessary time to lead effectively. The need to develop leaders was not always identified or action was not always taken. Leaders were not always clear about their roles and their accountability for quality.
  • The sustainable delivery of quality care was put at risk by financial challenges facing the trust.
  • There was no clear vision or strategy for service development in either the maternity or gynaecology service.
  • Management of the maternity service was reactive in response to external reports or adverse events. At times the service focused on solving immediate issues without risk assessing the consequences of these actions on the wider service.
  • The governance processes in maternity did not ensure quality, performance and risk were managed. The maternity dashboard held predominantly clinical information with no staffing information included.
  • There was an absence of comprehensive performance and quality audit plan. Several significant risks were identified which were not on the register and risk assessments had not been undertaken.
  • There was very little evidence of improvements by self-examination or benchmarking with other similar maternity services. The limited range of audits restricted the scope of quality monitoring and meant there could be little assurance that practices followed guidelines.
  • There was some uncertainty concerning the flow of data about the maternity unit’s performance to the hospital’s executive team. The unit was not holding regular nursing meetings.
  • There was poor communication at executive level about the future plans for the end of life service at the trust and a lack of consultation on the business plan that lay behind these plans.
  • We saw a business plan for the development of end of life care at the trust going forward. However we saw little evidence that there had been any tangible improvements in end of life care with the exception of the increase in use of the end of life care documentation.
  • There was a lack of any systematic audit programme relating to end of life care, and few measures that addressed risk and quality. This issue had been reported following the inspection in January 2017.
  • There was no evidence that the End of Life Care strategy was being monitored or taken forward since the departure in May 2017 of the end of life facilitator. Key tasks such as training needs analysis within the strategy had not been completed.
  • There was no scrutiny or interrogation of, delayed fast track discharges, or the achievement of preferred place of care, for end of life patients and so no learning could be taken from these.
  • In outpatients governance procedures to monitor waiting lists, waiting times, frequency of cancelled clinics, and referral to treatment timelines for patients were not robust enough which meant the impact on patients was not fully known.
  • A programme of rolling improvements in the outpatient service was not delivering sufficient results in a timely manner and significant challenges remained.
  • Accountability for decision making was unclear in several speciality clinics. Leaders, including the board and divisional management, were not visible within the outpatients department.
  • In the surgical division the culture was dictated by senior and executive management. It was not one of fairness, openness, transparency, honesty, challenge and candour. We found there was a disconnect between the executive team and frontline staff.
  • Decisions in the maternity service were traditionally made at the top and then communicated to staff. Staff had become accustomed to a top down leadership style, however, efforts were being made to effect a change in this.
  • Some staff continued to feel the culture of the maternity services was punitive despite actions to involve more staff in open discussions about the service culture.
  • Bullying and undermining behaviour towards other staff, peers or juniors appeared to have been insufficiently challenged in the maternity service. This meant that there was not a clear reporting line of key clinical issues affecting the maternity service. The operational decision-making group for midwifery did not feed into either the obstetrics and gynaecology meeting or the maternity forum.
  • A significantly high number of outpatients staff at all levels felt the culture within the trust was one of intimidation, bullying and discrimination and several staff had left or been signed off with stress.
  • The critical care unit risk register did not highlight all risks identified by the service and some ongoing risks had been closed. There were also issues with the way in which risks were added and removed from the register.
  • We were not assured of sufficient oversight and management of the risk register relating to end of life care.
  • Staff and public engagement was not given sufficient priority in most of the core services. There was a limited approach to obtaining the views of patients who used services and other stakeholders. Feedback was not always reported or acted upon in a timely way. We saw few mechanisms for capturing feedback from patients, their families and carers, or from staff. There had therefore been no input from these groups into the end of life service. This issue had been reported following both the January 2017 and January 2016 inspections.
  • There were low levels of staff satisfaction, high levels of stress and work overload. Staff did not feel respected, valued, supported and appreciated. Staff did not always raise concerns or they were not always taken seriously or treated with respect when they did.

However:

  • We found nursing, theatre and medical staff to be committed to the hospital and dedicated and caring to deliver care and treatment to patients.
  • Most managers we spoke to in surgery said they were overwhelmingly proud of the teams they led. There was alignment between the recorded risks and what staff said was on their ‘worry list’.
  • Innovation and improvement was encouraged within the surgical directorate.
  • There was clear vision for the critical care unit and a realistic strategy for achieving it.
  • There was an effective governance framework to support the delivery of the strategy and good quality care within the critical care unit.
  • All staff working on the critical care unit shared values which promoted the delivery of treatment that was safe and of the highest quality.
  • There was good nursing and medical leadership on the critical care unit. Managers were visible and approachable. Staff felt they could bring any concerns to their supervisors and they would be acted upon.
  • The service was taking steps to ensure the sustainability of the critical care unit so that it continued to provide safe care and treatment to patients
  • New management appointments in maternity had the potential to change the culture and involve staff more in decision making over time. A senior leadership programme for all senior managers had taken place which was in the process of being rolled out to other staff to strengthen staff understanding of leadership and develop skills.
  • The leadership, governance and culture of the services for children and young people were used to drive and improve the delivery of high-quality care. The clinical managers were committed to the children and young people in their care, their staff and the unit. Frontline staff and managers were passionate about providing a high quality service for children and young people with a continual drive to improve the delivery of care.
  • In end of life care we saw excellent examples of leadership within the specialist palliative care team and the mortuary which meant that staff working within these services benefitted from the support and commitment of their leaders.
  • Substantial funding had been agreed which aimed to improve education and provision of end of life care at the trust. There had been some improvement in the profile of end of life services since our last inspection.
  • The specialist palliative care team were held in extremely high regard across the trust in all areas we visited.
  • In diagnostic imaging we found the leadership to be visible and supportive. The culture in imaging was open and staff felt able to raise concerns.
  • Children and young people were able to give their feedback on the services they received; this was recorded and acted upon where necessary.
  • A variety of staff engagement activities following from the cultural review in maternity had tapped into staff views about the service and opportunities for improvement, and staff were taking forward some of these.
  • There was a high level of staff satisfaction with staff saying they were proud of the children and young people’s units as a place to work. They showed commitment to the children and young people, their responsibilities and to one another. All staff were treated with respect and their views and opinions heard and valued.

We saw areas of good practice including:

  • The critical care service had a good track record on safety. There had been no never events or serious incidents. Staff were aware of their responsibility to report incidents and the electronic reporting system had been improved since our previous inspection.
  • In children and young people’s services risk was managed and incidents were reported and acted upon with feedback and learning provided to staff.
  • Individual reporting of incidents specific to end of life care had improved since our last inspection and the ability of staff to identify such events was good in many of the areas we visited.
  • The imaging service had good examples of learning from incidents and measures in place to prevent a reoccurrence.
  • The mortality rates for critical care were better than the national average, meaning more people would have survived their illness than in other units across the country.
  • Safeguarding was well managed in maternity services.
  • Staff outpatient teams were up to date and competent with the trust safeguarding training and procedures.
  • Equipment, such as syringe drivers and specialist mattresses was readily available for end of life patients who needed it.
  • The trust had commenced a major project to implement a radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging system for medical devices.
  • There were effective arrangements in place around the prescription of anticipatory medications to ensure that end of life patients’ symptoms could be managed in a timely way.
  • In critical care nurse staffing levels had been increased since our last inspection and there was less reliance on agency staff. Medical staffing levels had also improved but it had also been recognised that further recruitment was needed to improve consultant presence.
  • Areas we visited were proactively managing risks, both in and out of hours to meet the needs of patients who were at the end of life.
  • There was an improvement month on month in the number of patients with an end of life care plan based on the five priorities of care.
  • Diagnostic imaging worked closely with medical physics to ensure minimal dosage of radiation was given to patients.
  • There were good multidisciplinary working relationships in gynaecology. MDT meetings were held to decide on treatment for women with gynaecological cancers.
  • Midwives used a recognised communication tool when discussing a case with other professionals to make sure information they reported was structured and consistent.
  • Treatment in critical care was provided mostly in line with best practice and national guidance. According to data submitted to the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, outcomes for patients were, in many cases, better than the national average.
  • There was a good range of audits taking place in gynaecology and the service took action in response to the results.
  • The maternity service generally achieved a better (lower) rate of emergency caesarean section than the national average, and a high proportion of women had unassisted births.
  • Treatment and care for children and young people were effective and delivered in accordance with best practice and recognised national guidelines. There was excellent multidisciplinary team working within the service and with other agencies.
  • Most staff in obstetrics and gynaecology had an appraisal in the past year.
  • We found all staff to be committed to the hospital and dedicated and caring to deliver care and treatment to patients.
  • Staff in the unplanned pregnancy service were kind, non-directive and non-judgemental. They maintained women’s privacy and confidentiality.
  • Staff were compassionate, kind and sensitive to patients, relatives and visitors. Feedback from those who used the services had been consistently positive. All were complimentary about the compassion and kindness they had been shown.
  • Staff understood the individual needs of patients and their families and designed and delivered services to meet them.
  • There was an effective vaccination programme for pregnant women. Community midwives gave whooping cough vaccines to pregnant women and also administered flu vaccines.
  • Women had a choice of where to give birth. The community birth-rate was much higher than the national average.
  • The leadership and culture of some services drove improvement and the delivery of high-quality individual care. In critical care staff promoted the delivery of the highest quality of care. The nursing and medical leadership on the unit was effective and senior staff members were visible and approachable.
  • In the children and young people’s service there were clear lines of local management in place and structures for managing governance and measuring quality. All staff were committed to children, young people and their families and to their colleagues. There were high levels of staff satisfaction with staff saying they were proud of the units as a place to work. They spoke highly of the culture and levels of engagement from managers.
  • We saw excellent examples of leadership within the specialist palliative care team and the mortuary which meant that staff working within these services benefitted from the support and commitment of their leaders. In imaging we found the leadership to be visible and supportive.
  • There had been some improvement in the profile of end of life services since our last inspection. The specialist palliative care team were held in extremely high regard across the trust in all areas we visited.
  • Substantial funding had been agreed which aimed to improve education and provision of end of life care at the trust.
  • There had been significant investment into the trust’s diagnostic imaging services.
  • There were strong innovative practices across the outpatients department.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • The critical care unit had arranged for an external provider to provide shiatzu massage to patients on the ward to help with muscular pain. The service was also available to staff.
  • The unit was using a local private ambulance to enable patients to go on day trips to local destinations. Nurses and doctors from the critical care unit would accompany them on these visits following a thorough risk assessment process.The patients suggested the destination and the unit endeavoured to grant their wish. Payment for the use of their services comes from the Charitable Fund.
  • Emotional support and information was provided to those close to patients. Following the participation in the Provision of Psychological Support to People in Intensive Care (POPPI), three nurses from the unit had undertaken training to enable them to deliver psychological support to improve outcomes for patients being discharged from the unit. The nurses in question were delivering this support to patients during our inspection. The nurses were also able to provide support to colleagues when required.
  • A member of the nursing team had recently returned from a secondment with the end of life team. Following their return, the nurse shared what they had learnt with the rest of the nursing staff. An initiative was also put forward to deliver additional support to bereaved children. We saw many tools to help children to cope with their loss. For example, the unit had invested in story books surrounding death. There were also puppets, colouring books and toys which could be used to distract and comfort children.
  • If appropriate, deceased patients were moved to one of the isolation rooms so relatives could spend time with them in private. Staff also accompanied bereaved relatives to their cars or waited with them if using public transport so they were not alone.
  • There was excellent local leadership of the children’s service. Senior clinical managers were strong and committed to the children, young people and families who used the service, and also to their staff and each other.
  • The trust had direct access to electronic information held by community maternity services, including GPs. This meant that hospital staff could access up-to-date information about patients, for example, details of their current medicine.
  • There was an outstanding commitment from frontline staff including clinicians, administrative and cleaning staff to provide a high quality service for children and young people with a continual drive to improve the delivery of care. Staff were passionate about doing the best they could for the children in their care.
  • The outpatient department had introduced an improved treatment option for the rapid removal of blood clots from veins and arteries following the purchase of new equipment. In some instances this prevented patients having emergency surgery and reduced length of stay.
  • The imaging department’s ability to maintain waiting lists at eight weeks and below.
  • The development and implementation of “RADAR” by Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust improved monitoring of referral to treatment, delays and clinic cancelations. It had won several national awards for innovation.

However, there were also areas of poor practice where the trust needs to make improvements.

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Improve the approach to identifying, reviewing and investigating incidents and never events.
  • Adopt a positive incident reporting culture where learning from surgical incidents is shared with staff and embedded to improve safe care and treatment of patients.
  • Ensure there is an effective system in place to monitor and scrutinise incidents relating specifically to end of life care ensuring subsequent learning can be implemented.
  • Take immediate steps to improve incident reporting timeliness, consistency, investigation, learning and sharing of learning processes in outpatients.
  • Improve systems and processes to ensure staff follow and apply principles for duty of candour.
  • Take immediate steps to address the fracture clinic environmental issues that had been present since the January 2016 inspection.
  • Ensure safety checks on surgical equipment are carried out by the planned dates.
  • Provide surgical patients with sepsis with timely access to intravenous antibiotics.
  • Securely and confidentially manage all patient information.
  • Ensure that patient records are stored securely in outpatient departments. Patient confidentiality must be maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
  • Ensure that the causes of incomplete treatment escalation plans are addressed and compliance is improved in critical care.
  • Ensure patients are risk assessed and operated on in the correct theatre with the correct equipment and staff available.
  • Ensure emergency resuscitation teams have immediate access at all times to a member of staff who is able to deal with difficult airway intubation.
  • Ensure full compliance with the Five Step to Safer Surgery World Health Organisation (WHO) checklist to prevent or avoid serious patient harm.
  • Meet expected levels of medical and nurse staffing levels on surgical wards to keep patients safe.
  • Ensure there are sufficient numbers of suitably qualified nursing staff in the paediatric emergency department and formal processes in place to ensure appropriate cover is provided at all times.
  • Improve compliance with the use of surgical patient care bundles.
  • Ensure all surgical staff receive annual appraisals, mandatory training, appropriate supervision and professional development.
  • Take immediate steps to ensure the privacy and dignity of patients using the fracture clinic cubicles.
  • Improve the incomplete referral to treatment pathway compliance for surgical patients.
  • Ensure all patients have their operations at the right time, whether in an emergency or for a planned procedure.
  • Ensure surgical facilities are appropriate to meet patients’ needs.
  • Improve bed management, and discharge arrangements to ensure a more effective flow of patients across the hospital to improve cancellations of patient’s operations.
  • Ensure access and flow into the critical care unit is improved to ensure delayed admissions, delayed discharges and discharges out of hours are reduced so patients receive the right care at the right time and in the right place.
  • Take immediate steps to ensure that the backlog of patients awaiting cardiology procedures is eradicated.
  • Take immediate steps to ensure that the backlog of 24 hour cardiac recordings and echocardiograms are reviewed.
  • Take immediate steps to ensure that the backlog of patients awaiting WARM ophthalmology procedures and glaucoma service is eradicated.
  • Improve the response times for patients’ complaints in surgery.
  • Ensure governance processes are embedded in practice to provide assurance that surgical services are safe and effective and provide quality care to patients. .
  • Ensure governance systems and processes are established and operated effectively to ensure the trust can assess, monitor and improve the quality and safety of the services provided to patients receiving end of life care.
  • Ensure action is taken to address behaviours and performance which are inconsistent with the vision and values of the hospital, regardless of seniority.

In addition the trust should:

  • Develop Local Safety Standards for Invasive Procedures.
  • Ensure all of the learning points and actions identified during monthly mortality and morbidity meetings in critical care are recorded and followed-up.
  • Continue to ensure safeguarding training compliance is brought up-to-date in the children and young people’s service and sustained at trust target levels.
  • Ensure medical staff mandatory training completion rates in critical care improve to comply with trust targets.
  • Continue to ensure staff in the children and young people’s service have their mandatory training brought up-to-date and sustained at trust target levels.
  • Improve compliance of patient screening for MRSA.
  • Promote the use of hand gel for visitors and patients in the ophthalmology department.
  • Ensure cleaning checklists in the cardiology outpatients department are used.
  • Ensure there is access to patient toilet facilities within the surgical assessment unit and theatre recovery area.
  • Repair the toilet facilities on Pendennis ward, to ensure they do not overfill and lead to closure of a bay.
  • Ensure all areas of non-compliance with the Department of Health guidelines for critical care facilities (Health Building Note 04-02) are included on the local risk register.
  • Reposition the high dependency unit on Polkerris ward to ensure observation of children at all times.
  • Improve the environment around the MRI scanners to allow better access for beds and patients.
  • Consider improving directional signage around the tower block area of the hospital.
  • Improve access facilities within outpatient waiting areas for wheelchair users when clinics are busy.
  • Ensure all checks carried out on the difficult airway trolley are permanently recorded to ensure all equipment and medicines are available in the event of an emergency.
  • Ensure all resuscitation trolleys in use on the critical care unit are in tamper-evident containers.
  • Consider the use of air/oxygen blenders and pulse oximetry on the neonatal unit as recommended in quality standards for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Improve the secure storage of breast milk stored in the fridges and freezers in the milk kitchen on the neonatal unit.
  • Improve the processes to identify and safely dispose of out of date medicines in surgery.
  • Ensure all controlled drug register checks are carried out and recorded every day, in both the north and south sides of the critical care unit.
  • Ensure the issues around the electronic drug charts in use, on the critical care unit and throughout the hospital, are rectified.
  • Review the method for checking controlled drugs on the neonatal unit to ensure that stock checks and signatures are recorded for each individual drug.
  • Continue to consider an electronic record system for the community paediatric teams and in the meantime to ensure there are systems in place for the secure carrying of multiple paper records.
  • Ensure there are regular nurse meetings on the critical care unit.
  • Examine whether the provision of specialist palliative care can be expanded to provide a seven day a week service as per national guidelines, to meet the needs of the trust.
  • Review the provision of physiotherapy resource on the critical care unit to improve compliance with NICE Guidance 83 (Rehabilitation after critical illness in adults).
  • Ensure staff in the outpatient departments are aware of their roles and responsibilities during a major incident.
  • In line with national guidance, routinely audit and evidence if patients are achieving their preferred place to receive their end of life care.
  • Expand the scope of audit of end of life care documentation to assess the competency and understanding with which it is used.
  • Improve the clarity of outpatient clinics outcome data to allow staff to have ownership and value to the work they do.
  • Ensure the use of diaries is offered to patients on the critical care unit to help them, or their loved ones, document the events during their admission.
  • Ensure patients, parents/carers are aware of the Friends and Family test and promote good use of this tool.
  • Ensure all nursing staff are competent in using specialist equipment on the critical care unit.
  • Ensure that there are mechanisms in place which effectively capture feedback from staff, patients and those close to them that can contribute to the design of end of life services.
  • Ensure that governance processes and systems can provide assurance that delays with fast track discharges for end of life patients are being monitored and managed in accordance with national guidance relating to end of life care.
  • Ensure there is a clear incident reporting process to follow in the event of delayed fast track discharges for end of life patients.
  • Continue to improve the discharge paperwork provided to ward staff in critical care to improve compliance with NICE Guidance 50 (Acutely ill adults in hospital: recognising and responding to deterioration).
  • Continue to improve the completion rate of discharge summaries in children and young people’s services.
  • Improve start times in operating theatres.
  • Fix the problem with post inpatient follow up appointments.
  • Take further action to reduce the number of outpatient clinics that are cancelled for avoidable reasons.
  • Improve the procedures used to monitor waiting lists, waiting times and the frequency of cancelled clinics for avoidable reasons.
  • Give ownership management of the cardiology waiting referral to treatment lists to the bookings team.
  • Improve systems and processes to show how complaints have been scrutinised for themes and level of impact in end of life care and what subsequent actions have been taken.
  • Ensure surgical leaders have the time to lead effectively.
  • Improve communication between executive level staff and local end of life care teams about the development of the end of life service at the trust.
  • Ensure there is a process in place which monitors the delivery of the end of life strategy and the actions held within it.
  • Review the effectiveness of the outpatient transformation team.
  • Clarify individual accountability for decision making within specialty outpatient clinics.
  • Ensure the risk register in use within the critical care unit includes all risks identified by the unit. This includes ensuring that continuing risks are not closed and remain open until the risk is mitigated.
  • Ensure there is an effective system at governance level to review, mitigate and improve services in relation to quality, safety and risk for end of life care at the trust.
  • Take steps to improve the culture within the outpatient departments where bullying and harassment are present.
  • Improve the engagement of both staff and the public across the trust.

Professor Edward Baker

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection areas

Safe

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

Effective

Requires improvement

Updated 5 October 2017

Caring

Good

Updated 5 October 2017

Responsive

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

Well-led

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

Checks on specific services

Maternity and gynaecology

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

  • There were not enough midwives deployed to provide a safe service in all areas at all times.

  • There was no dedicated high dependency area for deteriorating women and no process to ensure that that there was always a nurse or midwife staff on duty with the necessary competencies to manage women in need of high dependency care. The service did not monitor the number of women needing this level of care.

  • There was one theatre on the delivery suite with dedicated staffing. Contingency plans for using the adjoining room as a second theatre were not well set out or clearly understood.

  • The environment of the postnatal ward was not fit for purpose in summer when the temperature was high.

  • Not all midwives had the necessary skills, for example in neo-natal life support. Only 55% of midwives were up to date with training in neo-natal life support and training compliance for managing obstetric emergencies was 82%. The 85% target set for training completion in maternity was lower than trust target for training completion of 95%.

  • Management of the maternity service was reactive in response to external reports or adverse events, but did not have internal systems for assessing, monitoring and responding to risks.

  • Risks of harm to women in maternity services were not well identified, analysed and managed, and not all apparent risks were assessed and included on the risk register. The absence of comprehensive performance audit meant that service did not know its own performance in many areas. There was very little evidence of improvements by self-examination or benchmarking with other similar services.

  • Bullying and undermining behaviour towards other staff, peers or juniors appeared to have been insufficiently challenged in the maternity service.

  • The trust did not have mechanisms to audit patient notes to see if guidelines were followed. The delivery suite capacity was insufficient for the number of women giving birth. This resulted in a number of women labouring and giving birth on the antenatal ward several times a month, during which time they did not receive one-to-one care. This also impacted upon their privacy and dignity.

  • There was no dedicated high dependency area for deteriorating women on the delivery suite and no process to ensure sufficient staff on every shift trained to care for such women.

  • Induction of labour had increased at the trust and often more women were being induced each day than the agreed number. Planning for induction did not take into account activity or capacity on the delivery suite to ensure induction was safe.

  • We could not be assured that community midwives had the necessary equipment and competences to manage obstetric or neonatal emergencies in the community in the event that an ambulance was delayed.

  • The antenatal ward was not secure. The Day Assessment Unit adjoined the antenatal ward and the entrance doors were not closed except at night. This was a safeguarding risk to women and babies. Information sharing within the maternity service was inefficient. The different women’s records in the maternity service were not linked and women’s hand held notes and the hospital record held different information which meant it was not easy to see an overview of each woman’s status.

  • There is no credible statement of vision and staff were not aware of what limited vision there was. What existed was not underpinned by detailed objectives and plans.

  • The governance arrangements and their purpose were unclear. The processes in place did not support a clear governance framework. There was insufficient collection and monitoring of performance and quality measures to ensure clear and accurate oversight or service development and improvement.

However:

  • Safeguarding was well managed in an integrated hospital service. They maintained women’s privacy and confidentiality.

  • There was an effective vaccination programme for pregnant women.Community midwives gave whooping cough vaccines to pregnant women and also administered flu vaccines.

  • Midwives used a recognised communication tool when discussing a case with other professionals to make sure information they reported was structured and consistent.

  • There was a good range of audits taking place in gynaecology and the service took action in response to the results.

  • The maternity service generally achieved a better (lower) rate of emergency caesarean section than the national average, and a high proportion of women had unassisted births.

  • Women had a choice of where to give birth. The community birth-rate was much higher than the national average.

  • Most staff in obstetrics and gynaecology had an appraisal in the past year.

  • There were good multidisciplinary working relationships in gynaecology. MDT meetings were held to decide on treatment for women with gynaecological cancers.

Medical care (including older people’s care)

Inadequate

Updated 13 June 2017

We rated this service as inadequate because:

  • There were significant flow issues out of the hospital. During the inspection there were over 100 patients unable to leave the hospital due to an inability to access community services. On average 97 patients a month were waiting longer than seven days to be discharged. As a result of this patients were at risk of deteriorating both physically and mentally.
  • As a result of the flow issues there was not enough capacity within the hospital to manage the patients. There were 40 medical outliers on surgical wards, and areas such as theatre recovery were regularly being used to accommodate medical patients overnight.
  • Due to arrangements for getting agency staff there were frequently times on wards where they were short staffed which patients felt the impact of. Some patients told inspectors how they had soiled themselves as a result of waiting for staff to attend to them.
  • Some practices of infection control were unsafe. We found that on one occasion two bowls of bodily fluid were left in the sluice room and that some wards were physically messy, with incontinence pads on the bathroom floor and litter by beds.
  • Staff were not sufficiently trained to recognise the abuse of children. Safeguarding children training was well below the trust targets. Some consultant staff did not have sufficient manual handling training to keep people safe. In some ward areas less than 50% of the staff were sufficiently trained in children’s safeguarding.
  • In the Medical Admissions Unit we found a resuscitation trolley that did not have regular checks conducted on it to ensure the equipment was safe to use. In 2016 there were 45 separate occasions where the check was not complete. Weekly checks were rarely completed. We also found on the Medical Admissions Unit that medicines were not secure. Treatment room doors and medicine cupboard doors were left unlocked and despite CQC escalating our concerns found that practice did not change.
  • We found on numerous occasions that records trolleys were left unlocked.
  • Due to the high pressures of the job (at all levels) there was a disconnect between the local and divisional teams resulting in staff on the wards feeling that they were not supported. As divisional teams were focused on large issues such as flow through the hospital there was limited capacity to manage the ongoing risks on wards.
  • There were many risks which the divisional team should have had oversight of which they did not. When risks were escalated wards felt that they did not get the support to address or mitigate them.
  • There were low levels of staff satisfaction on wards and staff did not feel respected, valued, supported or appreciated. Although staff understood what the vision and values of the trust were they were not able to fully live by them due to the job pressures.

However:

  • There was adherence to the duty of candour throughout the incident investigation and complaints investigation processes. Staff we spoke with understood the principles of the duty of candour and their responsibility to report incidents on the computer systems.
  • Despite the high workload patients were consistently positive about the care they received. Patients were overwhelmingly positive on Wellington Ward and in the Coronary Care Unit.
  • We saw that treatment was planned and delivered in line with evidence based practice. There were innovative ways to record observations and ensure that appropriate risk assessments were completed.
  • There had been significant improvements in the stroke service. In the national stroke audit the trusts rating had improved from a level E to a level D.

Urgent and emergency services (A&E)

Requires improvement

Updated 13 June 2017

We rated this service as requires improvement because:

  • There had not been sustained improvement in incident reporting and analysis to recognise trends and demonstrate change and learning.

  • The recognised issues with delays in medicine administration had not been addressed and resolved.
  • There were aspects of safety that needed improvement. This included clear access to emergency facilities, including the resuscitation room, access to call bells, equipment maintenance and cleaning, and evidence of staff competency to use the equipment.
  • The overcrowding in the department meant there were times when the nursing staff levels were not adequate.
  • There had not been a sustained or satisfactory improvement in the timeliness of observations, and management of sepsis.
  • Medical audits did not provide evidence of receiving sufficient priority, or bringing immediate learning and improvement.
  • There were breaches in patient privacy, dignity and confidentiality when the department was overcrowded. Some of these were avoidable.
  • Waiting time targets for patients to be transferred out of the department were not being met, and had deteriorated.
  • The department was managing the arrival of medically expected patients and some surgical patients, and this was contributing to long waits for patients on trolleys at times.
  • The evidence from governance quality and safety reviews did not provide assurance for all aspects of care and risks. There were a number of areas not being considered, or not being scrutinised with enough priority or depth.

However:

  • There were reliable systems and training to protect people from abuse. Staff were knowledgeable in safeguarding, although numbers of staff updating training in high-level child safeguarding needed to increase.
  • Mandatory training compliance was improving with a notable amount of time given over to this and other continuous professional development for all clinical staff.
  • Response to patient risk, including triage times, was improving. The new rapid assessment and treatment service was making a noticeable difference.
  • Levels of nursing staff were coming up towards planned levels, although the number of consultants was below recommended levels.
  • Patients were treated in line with legislation, standards, and evidenced-based guidance.
  • There were competent and experienced staff who worked together to deliver effective care. Annual assessments of the competency (appraisals) had much improved.
  • Patients and people supporting them were treated with compassion and consideration and vulnerable patients were supported.
  • A high number of patients received their first treatment within the standard of 60 minutes and no patients had waited on a trolley for more than 12 hours after a decision was made to admit them.
  • There was experienced, committed, caring and strong leadership. The leaders understood the challenges they faced and had ambitions for improving and innovating.
  • Staff felt respected and valued. There was encouragement of openness, candour and collaborative working. There had been strong innovation and encouragement through continuous professional development, and acknowledgement of success and excellence.

Surgery

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

  • Safety performance was not a sufficient priority. There were significant numbers of serious incidents and never events. There was little evidence of learning from events or taking action to improve safety. When things went wrong, people were not always told and did not always receive an apology.

  • There were unacceptable delays for some patients who required emergency surgery due to high demand for theatres and lack of available beds. There was poor compliance with care pathways.

  • Services were not planned in a way that met people’s needs. Facilities did not always meet people’s needs or were inappropriate. Pressures from urgent patients’ admissions and delayed transfers of care led to significant levels of cancellations of elective operations. Patients were not always operated on in the most appropriate operating theatres, and assessments to identify patient risks were not always carried out. People did not always receive timely initial assessment, diagnosis or treatment. People experienced significant waits for some services. The service consistently missed targets to respond to complaints within 25 working days.

  • The arrangements for governance and performance management did not always operate effectively. Risks, issues and poor performance were not always dealt with appropriately or in a timely way. Not all leaders had the necessary time and support to lead effectively. There were low levels of staff satisfaction, high levels of stress and work overload. The culture was not one of fairness, openness, transparency, honesty, challenge and candour.

  • However, we found surgical, nursing and theatre staff to be committed to the hospital and dedicated and caring to deliver care and treatment to patients.

Intensive/critical care

Good

Updated 5 October 2017

  • The service had a good track record on safety. There had been no never events or serious incidents. Staff were aware of their responsibility to report incidents and the electronic reporting system had been improved since our previous inspection.

  • Nurse staffing levels had been increased since our last inspection and there was less reliance on agency staff.
  • Medical staffing levels had improved since our last inspection but it had also been recognised that further recruitment was needed to improve consultant presence.
  • Treatment was provided mostly in line with best practice and national guidance.
  • According to data submitted to the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, outcomes for patients were, in many cases, better than the national average.
  • The mortality rates for the unit were better than the national average, meaning more people would have survived their illness than in other units across the country.
  • Staff were compassionate, kind and sensitive to patients, relatives and visitors. All were complimentary about the compassion and kindness they had been shown while on the unit.
  • The culture on the critical care unit promoted the delivery of safe care and treatment to patients. Staff strived to ensure it was of the highest quality.
  • The nursing and medical leadership on the unit was effective. Senior staff members were visible and approachable.

However:

  • The number of delayed admissions to the unit, discharges out of the unit and the number discharges which took place out of hours was still a concern.
  • The unit did not provide patients with diaries to document significant events during their stay.
  • The unit did not provide patients with rehabilitation prescriptions, which could be used following discharge from the unit.
  • Checks carried out on the difficult airway trolley were not permanently recorded.
  • Safety issues, related to electronic prescription charts, had occurred due to the failure of some staff to correctly follow processes when patients were discharged from the unit.
  • Not all staff had up to date training to use specialist equipment and the system used for monitoring competence was not robust as the data was not clear.
  • The risk register in use on the unit did not highlight all risks identified by the service and some ongoing risks had been inappropriately closed.
  • The unit was not holding regular nursing meetings, as we highlighted during our previous inspection.

Services for children & young people

Good

Updated 5 October 2017

  • Risk was managed and incidents were reported and acted upon with feedback and learning provided to staff. Staff adhered to infection prevention and control policies and protocols.

  • The units were clean, organised and suitable for children and young people.

  • Treatment and care were effective and delivered in accordance with best practice and recognised national guidelines. There was excellent multidisciplinary team working within the service and with other agencies.

  • Children and young people were at the centre of the service and the priority for staff. Innovation, high performance and the high quality of care were encouraged and acknowledged. Children, young people and their families were respected and valued as individuals. Feedback from those who used the service had been consistently positive.

  • Care was delivered in a compassionate manner. Parents spoke highly of the approach and commitment of the staff that provided a service to their children.

  • Children received excellent care from dedicated, caring and well trained staff that were skilled in working and communicating with children, young people and their families.

  • Staff understood the individual needs of children, young people and their families and designed and delivered services to meet them.

  • There were clear lines of local management in place and structures for managing governance and measuring quality. The leadership and culture of the service drove improvement and the delivery of high-quality individual care.

  • All staff were committed to children, young people and their families and to their colleagues. There were high levels of staff satisfaction with staff saying they were proud of the units as a place to work. They spoke highly of the culture and levels of engagement from managers.

  • There was a good track record of lessons learnt and improvements when things went wrong. This was supported by staff working in an open and honest culture with a desire to get things right.

However:

  • There was no clear nursing observation area on the high dependency unit and this represented a risk to children who were not visible to nursing staff at all times.

  • There were insufficient numbers of suitably qualified nursing staff in the paediatric emergency department to provide safe care at all times. There were also no formal processes in place to ensure appropriate cover was in place in the department at all times, particularly during periods when the qualified nurse was temporarily absent from the department.

  • Although safeguarding training compliance had improved it remained a challenge and required continued improvement.

  • Completion of some mandatory training was below trust target and required improvement.

  • There were delays in completing discharge summaries and performance required improvement.

End of life care

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

  • There was no evidence of oversight or scrutiny of incidents that related to end of life care at the trust. Therefore, there was no evidence of learning or changes in practice that had resulted from such incidents.

  • Treatment escalation plans were audited and consistently shown not to be completed fully, often missing essential information about whether patients had mental capacity to consent to the plan.

  • The specialist palliative care team was too small to meet the demands of the trust as per national guidance. It was only able to provide a five day a week service, and even this stretched the capacity of the team.
  • There was not sufficient information or audit for the trust to be assured of the effective use of end of life care documentation. Audits did not address the quality or completeness with which the documentation was completed or understood, and did not contain any follow up action plans to address the issues raised.
  • There was no clear incident reporting process for staff to follow in the event of a delayed fast track discharge. There was no evidence of executive oversight of the problem caused by inconsistent reporting.

  • There was poor communication at executive level about the future plans for the end of life service at the trust and a lack of consultation on the business plan that lay behind these plans.

  • We saw a business plan for the development of end of life care at the trust going forward. However we saw little evidence that there had been any tangible improvements in end of life care with the exception of the increase in use of the end of life care documentation.

  • There was a lack of any systematic audit programme relating to end of life care, and few measures that addressed risk and quality.

  • There was no evidence that the End of Life Care strategy was being monitored or taken forward since the departure in May 2017 of the end of life facilitator. Key tasks such as training needs analysis within the strategy had not been completed.

  • There was no scrutiny or interrogation of, delayed fast track discharges, or the achievement of preferred place of care, for end of life patients and so no learning could be taken from these.

  • We saw few mechanisms for capturing feedback from patients, their families and carers, or from staff. There had therefore been no input from these groups into the end of life service.

  • We were not assured of sufficient oversight and management of the risk register relating to end of life care.

    However:

  • Individual reporting of incidents specific to end of life care had improved since our last inspection and the ability of staff to identify such events was good in many of the areas we visited.

  • There was an improvement month on month in the number of patients with an end of life care plan based on the five priorities of care.

  • Equipment, such as syringe drivers and specialist mattresses was readily available for patients who needed it.

  • Areas we visited were proactively managing risks, both in and out of hours to meet the needs of patients who were at the end of life.

  • There were effective arrangements in place around the prescription of anticipatory medications to ensure that patients’ symptoms could be managed in a timely way.

  • Locally, we saw excellent examples of leadership within the specialist palliative care team and the mortuary which meant that staff working within these services benefitted from the support and commitment of their leaders.

  • Substantial funding had been agreed which aimed to improve education and provision of end of life care at the trust.

  • There had been some improvement in the profile of end of life services since our last inspection.

  • The specialist palliative care team were held in extremely high regard across the trust in all areas we visited.

Outpatients

Inadequate

Updated 5 October 2017

  • Incidents were not always reported promptly. This impacted investigation timeliness and delayed potential learning opportunities.

  • The approach to declaring and serious incident was slow and investigations took too long.

  • Ophthalmology and Cardiology follow up appointment waiting lists are too long and patients are coming to harm through delays in treatment.

  • The fracture clinic remains a risk to patients due its design, unregulated clinic temperature and poorly maintained furnishings.

  • Records in cardiology of 24 hr cardiac record tapes and echocardiograms were not stored securely and were found stored in a letter tray.

  • The 24 hr cardiac record tapes and echocardiograms were not being managed in a timely way and were dated back as far as March 2017. These and were yet to be interpreted by specialists.

  • There was a lack of Wet Age Related Macular degeneration or glaucoma clinics causing significant delays in treatment for patients.

  • Managers and staff told us there were capacity and demand issues in some clinics that meant there were an insufficient number of clinics running to deal with demand.

  • Patients had unacceptably long waits for follow up treatment in ophthalmology & cardiology.

  • The fracture clinic remained not fit for purpose and issues identified from the January 2016 inspection remain.

  • A programme of rolling improvements in the outpatient service which was led by the outpatient improvement board had made some progress but significant challenges remained.

  • An unusually high number of staff at all levels in outpatients felt the culture within the trust was one of intimidation, bullying and discrimination and several staff had left or been signed off with stress.

  • Accountability for decision making was unclear in several speciality clinics.

  • Visibility of CEO and board staff was minimal.

  • Governance procedures to monitor waiting lists, waiting times, frequency of cancelled clinics, and RTT timelines for patients were not robust enough which meant the impact on patients was not fully known.

  • In ophthalmology demand continued to outgrow capacity at a predicted rate of 4,000 clinic slots by the end of 2017.

  • There remained significant challenges around access to appointments and the high volume of clinic cancellations.

  • We spoke with 12 patients and they were not made aware of the friends and family test.

However:

  • Staff teams were up to date and competent with the trust safeguarding training and procedures.

  • The imaging service had good examples of learning from incidents and measure in place to prevent a reoccurrence.

  • Imaging worked closely with medical physics to ensure minimal dosage of radiation was given to patients.

  • The trust has commenced a major project to implement a radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging system for medical devices.

  • There were strong innovative practices across the outpatients department.

  • In imaging we found the leadership to be visible and supportive.

  • There had been significant investment into the trust’s imaging services.

HIV and sexual health services

Good

Updated 12 May 2016

               

We judged sexual health services as good overall because:

  • Patients were protected from avoidable harm. Openness and transparency about safety was encouraged. Staff understood their responsibilities and were encouraged to report incidents and near misses.

  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults, children and young people was managed proactively and effectively by staff trained to recognise early signs of abuse.

  • Staff were employed in sufficient numbers to run the service effectively. A daily briefing ensured all staff were aware of any potential risks or concerns regarding the operation of the clinics.

  • Patients’ care and treatment was planned and delivered in line with current national recommendations and legislation.

  • The service participated in local and national audits and used the outcomes to inform,develop and improve care pathways and patients’ care and treatment.

  • Staff worked well together as part of a multidisciplinary team to coordinate and deliver patients’ care and treatment effectively.

  • Patients were provided with sufficient information regarding their care and treatment needs to be able to give consent prior to procedures or treatments being carried out.

  • The sexual health service provided a caring service to patients.

  • The privacy, dignity and confidentiality of patients’ was protected and they were treated respectfully by the staff.

  • Patients we spoke with provided us with positive feedback regarding their experience of using the sexual health service.

  • The service was planned and delivered in various locations and at different times of day times, in order to meet the needs of the local population.

  • The facilities and premises we visited were fit for purpose.

  • The booking system for appointments was easy to use and supported patients to attend an appropriate clinic to meet their care and treatment needs.

  • Patients were advised on how to make a complaint, were listened and responded to and action was taken in response to complaints and suggestions received.

  • Staff were aware of a clear vision and strategy for the service in that the aim was to become a fully integrated sexual health service. However, this was dependent on future commissioning arrangements which lay with an external organisation.

  • There were effective governance systems within the service and the wider trust. The service was able to identify current and future risks and the actions required to address these issues.