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We are carrying out a review of quality at West Cornwall Hospital. We will publish a report when our review is complete. Find out more about our inspection reports.


Inspection carried out on 10 Dec 2020

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We carried out a short notice announced focused inspection of the surgical care group of Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) on the 9 and 10 December 2020.

We inspected one surgical area of West Cornwall Hospital on the 10 December, as part of that inspection. The aim of the inspection was to see if the trust had taken the necessary action and made the required changes following six never events between February 2020 and September 2020, within the surgical care group and one never event in medical services. The trust had a further incident in September 2020 which did not meet the never event criteria but was declared as a never event by the hospital. Never events are serious incidents that are entirely preventable as guidance, or safety recommendations providing strong systemic protective barriers, these are available at a national level, and should have been implemented by all healthcare providers. Each never event type has the potential to cause serious patient harm or death. However, serious harm or death is not required to have happened as a result of a specific incident occurrence for that incident to be categorised as a never event.

The never events happened over three locations, with one never event taking place in May 2020 Wrong site surgery, Dermatology West Cornwall Hospital.

During this focused inspection we concentrated on specific key lines of enquiry within the ‘safe’ and ‘well led’ domains for surgery. This meant we could assess the trust’s learning and changes to practice in response to the never events. We did not inspect the effective, caring or responsive domains. We did not look at all domains and therefore we did not change the rating for surgery which remains requires improvement overall. This is because the safe and well led domains were rated as requires improvement in September 2018. We will continue to monitor the performance of this service. With the risks relating to Covid-19 still present, we’ll draw from the best of our existing methodologies and adapt them to work in the current environment. We are clear that our focus will continue to be on services where we have concerns about quality and/or safety, and we’ll continue to take appropriate action to protect people if necessary.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) is the main provider of acute hospital and specialist services for most of the population of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, approximately 500,000 people. The population can more than double during busy holiday periods. The trust employs approximately 5,000 staff.

The trust delivers care from three main sites – Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle, and West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance. The trust also provides outpatient, maternity and clinical imaging services at community hospitals at other locations across Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly. The trust has seven care groups however, West Cornwall Hospital is managed as a separate site and so does not sit within those trust care groups. Elective surgery is provided at St Michaels Hospital and West Cornwall Hospital.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust has undertaken approximately 51458 elective procedures and 24496 emergency surgical procedures from January 2020 to November 2020, including West Cornwall.

We visited the outpatient and day case unit. A team of one manager and two inspectors, spoke with seven nursing staff. We took part in one interview with staff. We reviewed audit data and policies and processes. At this inspection because of the risks caused by Covid-19, we did not speak to patients and relatives.

Following the inspection, we took regulatory enforcement action as a result of our findings in surgical care services. We issued a Warning Notice under section 29A of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. This means that we asked the trust to make significant improvements in the quality of healthcare it provides. Further details can be found at the end of the report.

You can find further information about how we carry out our inspections on our website:

Inspection carried out on 4 September to 27 September 2018

During a routine inspection

Our rating of services stayed the same. We rated it them as good because:

  • Urgent and emergency care has not been rated before. Safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led have all been rated good.
  • Medicine has stayed the same since our last inspection and was rated as good. Safe was found to be worse and went down one rating to requires improvement. Effective remained the same and was rated as good. Caring went down one rating from outstanding and was rated as good. Responsive and well led remained the same as our last inspection and were rated as good.
  • Surgery remained as good overall. Safe stayed the same since our last inspection and was rated requires improvement. Effective, stayed the same and was rated as good. Caring stayed the same since our last inspection and was rated good. Responsive and well-led both also both stayed the same since our last inspection and were rated good.
  • Outpatients was rated as good overall. Safe, caring, responsive and well led were all rated as good. Effective was not rated.

Inspection carried out on 6 July 2017

During a routine inspection

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is the principal provider of acute care services in the county of Cornwall. The Trust serves a population of around 532,273 people, a figure which can be doubled by holiday makers during the busiest times of the year.

West Cornwall Hospital is a registered location of Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and is located in Penzance. It provides medical inpatient, day surgery, urgent care and outpatient services. This was an announced focused inspection of West Cornwall Hospital. We inspected both surgery and outpatient services as part of this inspection. We visited West Cornwall Hospital on 5 July 2017.

We rated West Cornwall Hospital as good overall.

Our key findings were as follows:

  • Staff reported incidents and demonstrated knowledge of how to do this. They could explain the learning and actions which had resulted from incidents, near misses and never events. They were confident in the processes to identify and report incidents.
  • The environment was well maintained and was visibly clean and tidy. Staff adhered to infection control policies and procedures.
  • Equipment was in working order and had been serviced/calibrated as required. Resuscitation equipment was checked regularly.
  • There were arrangements to safeguard vulnerable adults and children from abuse, which reflected the relevant legislation and local requirements.
  • Staff monitored patients for signs of deterioration and were confident in the process to follow and escalation route should a patient deteriorate or be identified for sepsis.
  • Compliance with the five steps to safer surgery World Health Organisation checklist was observed in theatres. Checklists were appropriately adapted to suit the procedure.
  • Care and treatment was delivered in line with relevant evidence-based best practice guidance and standards.
  • All outpatient staff were competent to carry out their roles. Learning needs were identified during their annual appraisal and the trust encouraged and supported continued professional development.
  • Patients were positive about the care and treatment they had received. We observed staff treating patients with compassion and kindness. We saw staff did everything possible to ensure that patients’ privacy and dignity was respected.
  • Staff understood and respected patients’ personal, cultural, social and religious needs.
  • Staff showed a supportive attitude to patients. When patients showed discomfort or emotional distress, staff responded in a compassionate, timely and appropriate way.
  • Staff kept patients well informed throughout the pathway, ensuring their understanding and consenting patients verbally and with written consent.
  • Patient flow from admission to discharge was timely, with minimal delays. However, the full capacity of theatres at West Cornwall Hospital was not being fully utilised.
  • Information about the needs of the local population was used to inform how services were planned and delivered.
  • Patients’ individual needs were taken into account, For example, people with learning difficulties, patients living with dementia, mobility problems, hearing difficulties and visual impairment may be given longer appointment times.
  • There was a clear vision for surgical services at West Cornwall Hospital, however the strategy for achieving this was dependent on the review of the current infrastructure.
  • There was a very positive culture in surgical services and all of the outpatient departments we visited. The local management teams were well respected. Managers supported their teams and promoted good quality care and were comfortable in raising concerns and issues. The departments we visited appeared well organised and were running smoothly.

We also saw areas of outstanding practice, including:

  • There was a very positive culture in all the departments we visited. Staff described good teamwork and flexibility within the staff groups.
  • Staff across all of the outpatient departments and we visited, including reception staff were very patient-centred and made great efforts to ensure patients were supported, given time to ask questions and understood the information they had been given.
  • The department had six volunteers. We saw them helping people around the department and to different parts of the hospital. We saw them spending time with patients who were waiting, helping to relieve their anxiety. The volunteers also provided drinks to patients who were waiting for their appointments. The outpatient department manager spoke very highly of their volunteers and the positive effect they had on patients who visited the department.

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Review all equipment in the surgical unit and theatres at West Cornwall Hospital and ensure it is serviced in line with manufacturer guidance. The asset registers should ensure a clear audit trail is maintained of date of last service and date due for next service.

In addition the trust should:

  • Ensure all staff are aware of the local procedure at West Cornwall Hospital for managing patients requiring overnight stay or transfer for escalation of care and ensure this process is well embedded and staff are able to access advice immediately if a patient is at risk. The surgeon and anaesthetist should be reminded to visit the ward to check all patients prior to them leaving site and handover to the medical team on site in line with the local procedure. The arrangements with the ambulance service and timely transfer of patients should be reviewed to ensure there are no risks to the patient and staff are not left feeling vulnerable.
  • Ensure staff are confident in the response to emergencies through the use of simulation scenarios and use these to identify learning needs for processes and staff.
  • Review the use of fabric reusable curtains in the surgical unit and the diagnostic imaging department and their implications on infection prevention control within the hospital.
  • Consider a formal process for clinical supervision to ensure improvements in nurse practice and reflective learning.
  • Continue to review the capacity at West Cornwall Hospital and the opportunities to increase theatre lists for the benefit of improving flow at Royal Cornwall Hospital and ensuring patients receive timely operation dates.
  • The trust should ensure there are processes in place for induction and orientation when West Cornwall Hospital staff are relocated to Royal Cornwall Hospital for their shift. Consideration should be given to the safe staffing provided when staff are required to work on wards or departments which they have never experienced or are not comfortable to work in.
  • Review the process for recording and managing risks relevant to theatres and the surgical unit at West Cornwall Hospital.
  • Monitor the risks and practices put in place to reduce the risks for radiography staff when lone working out of hours.
  • Make better use of the cardiology clinic capacity available at West Cornwall Hospital.
  • Make data available, trust-wide, to show the proportion of patients that waited more than 30 minutes to see a clinician or what percentage of clinics started late.
  • Display information about chaperones being available in all outpatient areas.

Professor Edward Baker

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 14 January 2016

During a routine inspection

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 the Trust Development Authority (TDA).

The Trust serves a population of around 450,000 people, a figure that can be doubled by holidaymakers during the busiest times of the year.

This is the second comprehensive inspection we have carried out 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 required.

Our key findings for West Cornwall Hospital were as follows:


  • There was a positive approach to incident reporting with evidence of learning from within and external to the ward and hospital. Patients were informed by staff when things went wrong and given an apology.

  • There were reliable systems in place to prevent and protect people from a healthcare associated infection and equipment was checked and maintained.
  • There were sufficient nursing and medical staff to meet patient needs


  • Staff provided evidenced care and treatment. The endoscopy unit had received JAG accreditation and the renal unit had started to deliver haemodiafiltration to improve patient outcomes.
  • There was a strong focus on multidisciplinary working.
  • Staff had a good understanding of the mental capacity act and its application in practice.


  • Not all staff had received annual appraisals with one ward reporting only 8% of staff having had an appraisal in the previous twelve months.


  • Staff were seen to deliver care that was kind and compassionate and at times went the extra mile to care for both patients and relatives. Emotional and spiritual needs were met.
  • Patients were highly positive about the care and attention they received.


  • Services were planned to meet the needs of patients and visitors to the area.
  • Discharge planning commenced on admission.
  • Staff at the hospital went to great lengths to plan, deliver and coordinate care and services in a way that took into account patients’ complex needs.


  • It was not clear how patients or relatives could raise a concern or a complaint.

Well led.

  • There were governance systems in place that ensured activity was monitored, risks were reflected on the risk register and findings were fed into the trustwide governance system.
  • There was an open culture with a visible leadership where staff felt able to raise concerns.
  • There was innovative working and close engagement with the local community. Recruitment and retention strategies were in place.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • The hospital worked closely with Age UK to provide additional services to patients on discharge. This ensured their home was ready for them when they returned. Their presence within the hospital also supported the care of patients living with dementia.
  • Staff went the extra mile for example by providing a ‘memory café’ in the day room on a weekly basis. Patients and family members could attend for free and were invited to engage in singing, quizzes and games to help engage people living with dementia. Patients received tea and homemade cakes made by the nurses, along with prizes.

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

The trust should:

  • Ensure the decontamination room and storage room used by the endoscopy service is kept secure at all times.
  • Ensure there is a system to monitor staff accessing clinical supervision.
  • Ensure all staff receive an annual appraisal.
  • Ensure the process is clear on how patients or relatives could raise a concern or a complaint.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 3 June 2015

During Reference: R6 not found

Inspection carried out on 3-5 June 2015

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We inspected West Cornwall Hospital, part of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, to check if changes had been made in specific areas where we found breaches of regulations during our previous comprehensive inspection in January 2014. The inspection was carried out between 3 and 5 June and on 15 June 2015.

We rated the hospital as good for safety

Our key findings were as follows:

  • Not all records were complete or up to date meaning patients’ needs and levels of care were not always clear to enable staff to meet their needs.
  • Action had been taken to ensure medical records were kept confidential by use of lockable trolleys.
  • Insufficient numbers of staff were up to date with mandatory training including infection control and resuscitation.
  • Staffing levels were managed with bank and agency staff and approval for more nursing posts had been given based on a review of patient dependency and acuity.
  • There was evidence of learning and feedback from incidents with staff telling us of a positive culture for reporting incidents.
  • The hospital was supported to access the pharmacy to ensure stocks of medications were maintained at sufficient levels through the electronic prescribing system.
  • Delays in discharging patients from the hospital was seen to be a concern with recognition that extended stays were not beneficial to patients recovery with a lack of social workers being felt to contribute to these delays.

We saw some outstanding practice including:

  • The trust had direct access to electronic information held by community services, including GPs. This meant that hospital staff could access up to date information about patients (for example, details of their current medicine).

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Ensure that patient records are up to date and completed in full to ensure that all staff caring for the patients have access to all relevant details regarding on-going care.

In addition, the trust should ensure that:

  • Substances and chemicals that may be harmful to health are not accessible to patients or visitors.
  • All emergency equipment is checked and ready for use in line with trust policy.
  • Fridge temperatures are regularly checked in line with trust policy to ensure the safe storage of medicines.
  • All relevant staff are up to date with infection control training.
  • All relevant staff are up to date with basic life support training.
  • Ensure sufficient resources are available enable timely assessment and review of patients for discharge
  • Ensure staff have an understanding of duty of candour and when it should be applied
  • Ensure staff awareness/training on assessment and treatment tools so that patients needs are fully assessed

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 21 January 2014

During Reference: not found

Inspection carried out on 21 and 25 January 2014

During a routine inspection

West Cornwall Hospital is one of three acute hospital locations run by Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. It provides medical inpatient care for older people and day case surgery, as well as diagnostic and therapy services and a wide range of outpatient clinics. The hospital has a 24 hour urgent care centre which run by the trust and is a type 3 doctor led service. This type of service is more comprehensive than a minor injury unit,- but not as extensive as an Emergency Department; for example, patients with major trauma injuries or suffering a heart attack would be taken directly to Treliske Hospital.  

The hospital is registered to provide: Assessment or medical treatment for persons detained under the Mental Health Act 1983; diagnostic and screening procedures; surgical procedures; treatment of disease, disorder or injury, termination of pregnancies and family planning.

To carry out this review of acute services we spoke to patients and those who cared, or spoke for them. Patients and carers were able to talk with us, or write to us before, during and after our visit. We listened to all these people and read what they said. We analysed information we held about the hospital and information from stakeholders and commissioners of services. People came to our two listening events in Truro and Penzance to share their experiences. To complete the review we visited the hospital over two half days, with specialists and experts. We spoke to 12 patients and 23 staff from all areas of the hospital during our visits.

Patients received safe care and were protected from risks. The hospital was clean and infection rates low. Patients care and treatment was effective and was planned and delivered in line with legislation and best practice. There were some concerns relating to the timeliness of record keeping which risked a patients care or condition deteriorating without the written evidence for staff to compare the patient’s signs and symptoms. Patient dignity could be compromised in the recovery ward. Most staff had received an appraisal in the last year and commented positively on the support they received; however, clinical supervision for nurses was under developed. (Clinical supervision is an opportunity for practising professionals to discuss and review their practice in order to improve their care.)

Patient needs were assessed, and care planned and delivered to meet these needs. The discharge liaison nurse had made a positive impact on the planning and timeliness of discharges; however, some patients had their discharge delayed due to the availability of appropriate support packages for care at home or care home beds.

The hospital was well-led; in particular staff spoke highly of the matron and divisional manager. Communication with the wider trust had also improved. Governance arrangements were appropriate.

Information on how each area in the hospital was doing and feedback on patient experiences was displayed through the hospital, demonstrating an open culture.


There was sufficient staffing capacity, including an appropriate skill mix to enable the effective delivery of care and treatment.

Cleanliness and infection control

The hospital was clean, with information such as the use of hand gel clearly displayed alongside the gel dispensers throughout the hospital. Infection rates were low.

Inspection carried out on 19 November 2013

During a routine inspection

We spoke with patients about the service they received when we visited the two medical wards, outpatients, operating theatres, day surgery unit, renal dialysis unit and the Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital.

We had a large number of comments, both from patients at the time of the inspection and also comments left by patients who had used the service on the NHS Choices website. This was further supported by the comments received from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. The staff told us they enjoyed working at the hospital, and they felt supported, both by their colleagues and also by Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT).

Comments received from patients included �We both know what's happening and we�re kept fully informed�, �I was fully informed about the reason for the X-ray� and �The consultants are friendly but professional and put you at your ease. I felt very much included in the whole process�.

Patients were protected by the hospital�s management of medicines, its robust recruitment procedures and the tools and methodology used to monitor practices and outcomes for patients.

Inspection carried out on 26 November 2012

During a routine inspection

We spoke with people about the service they received when we visited two medical wards and the Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital.

People told us they had confidence in the staff and the service offered. People said they were satisfied with the care provided and the kindness and politeness of the staff. All the comments received from people at the time of the inspection were positive, and this was further supported by the comments received from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. The staff told us they enjoyed working at the hospital, and they felt supported, both by their colleagues and seniors and also by Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT).

One patient described their experience at West Cornwall Hospital in August 2012 on the NHS Choices website: �Excellent service - I really felt like the staff cared about me. They were attentive, helpful, thoughtful, considerate and patient. They listened to my concerns and addressed them properly. When I went for my booking appointment they did everything there and then - I saw five departments in an hour, so I wouldn't have to come back. And they were concerned about keeping me for an hour, they kept apologising, checking on me, chatting, bringing me drinks - I almost didn't want to go home! They really took care of me�.

Inspection carried out on 2 February 2011

During a routine inspection

We spoke with people about the service they received. They told us that they have confidence in the staff and the service offered. People said they were satisfied with the care provided and the kindness and politeness of the staff. One patient described the nursing staff as �wonderful�. Someone who visited West Cornwall Hospital in December 2010 said "This is a vital and excellent hospital". Another said �This is an excellent hospital where my son received vital life saving treatment over Christmas. I can't thank the staff enough especially the two junior doctors on duty who made all the right decisions�.

One person using West Cornwall Hospital in December 2010 made comment on the NHS Choices website that �the ward was exceptionally clean and well maintained�, and another earlier in the year said ��ward was spotless and I was very impressed�.