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Archived: Spire Liverpool Hospital Good

The provider of this service changed - see new profile


Inspection carried out on 18 - 19 and 26 March 2015

During a routine inspection

Spire Liverpool Hospital is run by Classic Hospitals Limited which is part of Spire Healthcare Group Plc. Spire Liverpool Hospital, previously known as Lourdes Hospital, is located in a residential area of south Liverpool which provides care and treatment for private (self-funding and insured) and NHS patients referred under the Standard NHS Acute Contract.

The hospital offers a variety of services including surgery and outpatients and diagnostics. There were 3 outpatient areas, 2 wards with a total of 32 single rooms, a six bedded day-case unit, 3 operating theatres (one of which is a mobile and 2 laminar flow), physiotherapy department, radiology department, a MRI scanner and a mobile CT scanner.

Day surgery and inpatient treatment is provided for patients across a range of specialties, including urology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, pain injection, minor hand surgery, minor neurosurgery, ear, nose and throat (ENT), gynaecology, endoscopies, general surgery (such as upper and lower gastrointestinal surgery) and cosmetic surgery. There were 1,251 overnight patients and 7,458 day case patients admitted to the hospital between October 2013 and September 2014. There were also 8,513 visits to theatre recorded in that time. The majority of procedures were for non-complex orthopaedic surgery; however, the hospital does also carry out some complex procedures including arthroplasty and shoulder surgery.

The hospital has a policy which outlines the inclusion/exclusion criteria for patients based on acuity and the services available on site. As part of the pre-operative assessment process, patients with certain medical conditions are excluded from receiving treatment at the hospital. For example, patients with an American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) physical status score of 4 are excluded. The majority of patients admitted to the hospital have an ASA score of 1 or 2. These patients are generally healthy or suffer from mild systemic disease.

The hospital previously provided surgical services for children from the age of three upwards. Due to the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS) guidance on the care of children in the independent healthcare sector, the hospital ceased providing surgical services for children on 16 February 2015. At the time of our inspection the hospital only provided adult inpatient services (18 years and over). The outpatient services remained unchanged and any children identified as needing treatment through an outpatient appointment would be referred to an alternative healthcare provider.

The outpatients and diagnostic imaging services provided by the hospital cover a wide range of specialties including neurology, orthopaedics, ear nose and throat (ENT), general medicine, physiotherapy, urology, cosmetic surgery and general surgery. The diagnostic and imaging department carries out routine x-rays as well as more complex tests such as MRI scans, CT scans and ultrasound scans. The service is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday with some additional clinics on Saturdays. The hospital recorded 78,692 patient attendances between January 2014 and end of February 2015. The busiest clinics were the orthopaedic clinics with around 16,000 attendances; ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinics at 6,000 attendances and the general surgery clinics with around 5,000 attendances.

Spire Liverpool Hospital was selected for a comprehensive inspection as part of the second wave of independent healthcare inspections. The inspection was conducted using our new methodology.

We carried out an announced inspection of Spire Liverpool Hospital between 18 and 19 March 2015. We also carried out an unannounced inspection of the hospital between 7:15pm and 8.30pm on 26 March 2015. The purpose of the unannounced inspection was to look at how the hospital operated at off-peak times.

The inspection team inspected the following core services:

  • Surgery
  • Outpatients and diagnostic imaging

The hospital do provide fertility treatment services; however, these were not inspected as part of our inspection because these services are regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

We rated Spire Liverpool Hospital as “Good” overall.

This location has been awarded a shadow rating. Shadow ratings apply to inspections which are undertaken during the development of our approach and before our final methodology is confirmed and published.

Our key findings were as follows:

Overall Service Leadership

  • The hospital was led by the senior management team comprising of the medically trained Hospital Director, the Matron/Head of Clinical Services, the Operations Manager, the Finance and Commercial Manager and Business Development Manager.
  • The Hospital Director had only been in post for approximately 8 weeks at the time of our inspection and the application for that person to become the registered manager with CQC was still being processed.
  • Staff were positive about the leadership of the hospital and described significant improvements since the appointment of the new Hospital Director.
  • Staff were engaged and described an open culture where they felt they could raise issues or concerns and positively influence the services they were providing.
  • Clinical governance meetings were held to discuss issues such as patient safety, clinical reliability and clinical effectiveness; however, they were infrequent, with only three meetings being held in the past 12 months.
  • Medical oversight of hospital practices was undertaken via the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and meetings were held three times in the past year but the policy was that these should be held four times a year. The purpose and desired outcomes of these meetings were not clear. We were told by the MAC chair that this was an advisory committee for clinical issues; however, there was no requirement for the hospital to act upon the advice of the committee.
  • Health & Safety/Risk meetings were held to discuss hospital risks. Meetings were due to be held four times a year. We saw evidence that there was a meeting in March 2015 with the next one to be planned for quarter 2 but that the previous meeting was in March 2014. At these meetings, the risk register was reviewed along with the clinical scorecard. The risk register consisted of mainly health and safety issues and the clinical scorecard was a tool to monitor clinical performance against targets (such as readmission rates and surgical site infections). Whilst we saw evidence of local risk assessments within the departments, we did not see a hospital risk register (or other mechanism) that captured all of this information to show the hospital wide risks; how risks were graded, reviewed and escalated or de-escalated on an ongoing basis. We raised this with hospital management at the time of our inspection and were told that a new post of risk manager had recently been appointed at Spire (corporate level) and that the risk management policy was planned for review in March 2015. Risk management processes would be reviewed at the same time.
  • An audit of incidents at the hospital showed that whilst thorough investigations were conducted and actions were taken to address them, heads of department were slow to close incidents down. Some actions had been taken to address this and there was an action plan in place to monitor improvements going forward.
  • All of the issues highlighted had been recognised by the senior management team and plans were being developed to address them.

Cleanliness and infection control

  • All areas that we inspected were visibly clean and well maintained. Cleaning schedules were in place and roles and responsibilities were well defined.
  • In all clinical areas we observed staff to be complying with best practice with regard to infection prevention and control policies. Staff followed hand hygiene and ‘bare below the elbow’ guidance and wore personal protective equipment, such as gloves and aprons, while delivering care.
  • There were processes in place for the handling, storage and disposal of clinical waste, including sharps and the prevention of healthcare acquired infection. We observed staff adhering to these processes.
  • There had been no cases of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) bacteraemia infections, Methicillin-Sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus (MSSA) bacteraemia infections or Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections at the hospital between October 2013 and February 2015. MRSA, MSSA and C.difficile are infections that can cause harm to patients. MRSA is a type of bacterial infection that is resistant to many antibiotics. MSSA is a type of bacteria in the same family as MRSA but it can be more easily treated. C.difficile is a bacterium that can affect the digestive system; it often affects people who have been given antibiotics.

Staffing Levels

  • Nurse staffing levels had previously been set based on a trial of the Shelford ‘Safer Nursing Care Tool’ but this was no longer used because the majority of patients were only admitted to the hospital for a short period of time. Staffing levels were set based on planned activity on a weekly basis.
  • Daily meetings were held to review staffing and there were escalation arrangements in place so that additional staff could be brought into an area should there be unexpected absences or if a patient’s level of dependency increased.
  • When additional nursing or support staff where required, the hospital used their own staff to cover additional shifts where possible but on occasions agency staff were used and the hospital tried to secure agency staff that were familiar with the hospital. There was a robust system in place to ensure agency staff were appropriately inducted to the service. We spoke with one agency member of staff who was very positive about the induction process and told us that they felt well supported by their colleagues.
  • We reviewed recent duty rotas and noted that all areas had a sufficient number of trained nursing and support staff with the appropriate skill mix to ensure that patients were received the right level of care based on their needs..
  • There was a Resident Medical Officer (RMO) based on site who reported any changes in a patient’s condition to the responsible consultant, and together with the nursing team provided 24 hour medical support to patients. The RMO's utilised by this hospital were appropriately trained in Immediate Life Support (ILS), Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS) and they provided cover 24 hours a day for that week before rotating with the other RMO.
  • Consultants and anaesthetists who were mainly employed by other organisations (usually in the NHS) in substantive posts and had practising privileges (the right to practice in a hospital) with Spire Liverpool Hospital. The consultant handbook provided by Spire outlined that consultants and anaesthetists were responsible for their individual patients during their hospital stay. The RMO and ward staff had a list of contacts for all the consultants and anaesthetists for each patient and told us they could be easily contacted when needed; however, there was no formalised on-call rota (or other mechanism) to show who was responsible for the care and treatment of patients if their consultant or anaesthetist was not available.
  • Throughout our inspection both patients and staff told us that the hospital had sufficient staff.

Mortality rates and outcomes for patients

  • The hospital had reported no instances of inpatient mortality in the reporting period October 2013 to September 2014.
  • There had been no unexpected patient deaths from October 2013 to September 2014. However, one had been reported to the CQC in December 2014. A full root cause analysis investigation had been undertaken by the senior management team. Learning and actions had been identified and implemented. The case had been appropriately referred to the coroner.
  • The national joint registry (NJR) data showed that hip and knee mortality rates at the hospital were in line with the national average.
  • Performance reported outcomes measures (PROMs) data between April 2013 and March 2014 showed that the percentage of patients with improved outcomes following hip replacement and knee replacement procedures was similar to the England average.
  • The hospital had a performance target for at least 70% of NHS funded patients aged over 70 years to undergo hip replacements with cemented prosthesis. This target was achieved for all patients over the past six months.
  • The rate of emergency readmissions to the hospital within 30 days of discharge was similar to the England average between June 2013 and May 2014.
  • The number of unplanned patient transfers to another hospital was better than the England average between July and September 2014.
  • The diagnostic imaging department had a yearly audit schedule in place and ensured all staff participated in these. Dose audits were conducted in line with Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) regulations (2000) (IR(ME)R) regarding protecting patients from the risks of unnecessary exposure to x-rays. The department was also audited externally from its commissioners, such as BUPA, to ensure the quality standards were being met. The reports were all positive.

Care and Compassion

  • All the patients we spoke with were positive about the care and treatment they had received. We observed friendly staff treating patients with dignity and respect.
  • Patients were kept involved in their care and treatment and staff were clear at explaining their treatment to them in a way they could understand.
  • We were told of some good examples in surgery of how the hospital had shown a person centred approach to patient care and involved family or relatives even if that required a longer stay in the hospital.
  • Patient feedback from the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) was consistently positive. Response rates for August, September and October 2014 were between 40% - 46%. Of those that responded, all respondents in August 2014 would recommend the hospital to friends and family, whilst 98% of respondents in September and October would.

  • A Spire satisfaction survey conducted by the hospital for 2014 showed that 95% of respondents rated the care and attention from nurses as excellent (84%) or very good (11%). The results of the survey had consistently improved since 2012.

  • Staff were caring and compassionate. Patients reported very high levels of satisfaction with the care they received and we observed many positive interactions between staff and patients.
  • We saw people being treated as individuals and staff spoke to patients in a kind and sensitive manner.


  • Information on how to raise complaints was displayed in the areas we inspected.
  • We reviewed a sample of complaints across the hospital, which showed that complaints were investigated in a timely way, appropriate responses were given to patients and lessons were learned as a result.
  • Staff had a good understanding of the complaints process and feedback was given to staff individually if required. Learning from complaints was cascaded to all relevant staff during team meetings to raise awareness and improve patient experience.

The services we inspected were good overall; however, there were some areas of poor practice where the provider needs to make improvements.

The provider should:

  • Review the terms of reference and frequency for hospital wide meetings to ensure they are effective in achieving their objectives.
  • Review the hospital’s risk management processes to ensure that all risks are captured, monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Ensure controlled drugs in the theatre recovery area are appropriately stored at all times.
  • Ensure that action is taken to properly record the disposal of part vials of controlled drugs and improve compliance in medicine audits.
  • Improve performance relating to patient fasting times whilst awaiting surgery to ensure current clinical guidelines are met.
  • Implement a formalised system that shows which consultant or anaesthetist is responsible for a particular patient. This should include a nominated deputy for occasions when the responsible person is unavailable.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 12 August 2013

During an inspection looking at part of the service

At out previous inspection we found that improvements were required in the storage and effective management of medication.For which a warning notice was issued.

At this visit we found that the provide had made significant improvement in the overall management of medications.During our visit we found that changes had been made to the documentation, storage ,and management of medications. Process and polices had been reviewed and training updates had been carried out.

Inspection carried out on 19 June 2013

During a routine inspection

We had previously inspected this service on 13 February 2013. We found that improvements were required to ensure appropriate arrangements were in place in relation to the recording and storing of medicine. During this visit we found that improvements were still required in relation to provision of appropriate arrangements to manage medicines.

We spoke with seven people who used the service and three of their relatives. They told us that the care they had received had been delivered in a way that respected people�s privacy and dignity and their individual wishes. Their comments included,

�All the staff are fantastic�.

�Nobody can do enough for you�.

�Staff said can I help you in any way, which was great�.

�They are very respectful�.

During our visit, discussions we had with staff showed they had a clear understanding of the need to respect and value the people they supported. We observed staff interacting with people with sensitivity and compassion.

Staff told us that they had received the support they had needed from senior staff. They also told us that they had undertaken training relevant to their role and had received appropriate professional development.

During our visit we saw evidence that care plans contained sufficient detail to provide guidance for staff to follow and care was planned in line with individual needs and wishes. The provider was effectively assessing and monitoring the quality of service delivery.

Inspection carried out on 13 February 2013

During a routine inspection

During our visit we spoke with five patients who used the service. The people we spoke with told us they felt safe and had no concerns about their care. They told us the care they received was delivered in a way that respected their privacy and dignity. People told us that any care or treatment planned for them had been thoroughly discussed with them and their agreement had been obtained.

Comments we received from patients included:

"They told me exactly what was happening".

"Care has been exemplary".

"If you need them, them they are there".

"They keep asking me if I am alright".

"I have not had to wait for pain relief"

During our visit we saw evidence that care records were detailed and contained enough information for people to be cared for safely and effectively.

We found that effective staff recruitment and selection processes were in place.

We saw evidence during our inspection that the organisational procedures regarding the management of medicines were not always followed correctly.

Inspection carried out on 13 March 2012

During a routine inspection

The patients we spoke with told us they were treated with dignity and respect. They said they were included in discussions about their treatment and care. They described the staff as kind, caring and knowledgeable. We heard there was always plenty of staff available and requests were met in a timely and efficient way. Patients described the care as, �Absolutely brilliant�, and we heard the staff described as, �Excellent professionals.� Patients said the food was good and choices were available at mealtimes.

Reports under our old system of regulation (including those from before CQC was created)