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We are carrying out checks at Royal Cornwall Hospital. We will publish a report when our check is complete.

Reports


Inspection carried out on 4 to 7 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 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 carried out on 4 & 5 January 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 is not a Foundation Trust and performance is monitored by NHS Improvement (NHSI). The Trust serves a population of around 415,783 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.

This inspection was a responsive, unannounced focused inspection and 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.

Only those services provided at the main Royal Cornwall Hospital site in Treliske were inspected. We did not inspect:

  • St Michaels Hospital
  • West Cornwall hospital
  • Penrice birthing unit

Key findings:

Safe:

  • There was not a reliable or effective system in place to identify, capture, report or review incidents. Although staff did complete incident forms and they were encouraged to do so, there was little evidence of actions or learning resulting from these.
  • The classification of incidents was not effective, for example, we found multiple examples of incidents (where harm had resulted) classified as ‘no harm’. This meant not all incidents were investigated or escalated appropriately, and opportunities to learn and improve were missed. It also meant that the trust were not able to produce accurate reports for analysis or accurately identifying risks or trends.
  • Not all incidents had action plans associated with them, and those that did, were not always robust or monitored to ensure they had been completed, and learning had taken place.
  • As the level of harm had not always been correctly established or recorded, there was no assurance that duty of candour had always been applied appropriately.
  • There was inconsistency with the quality of serious incident investigation reports and evidence of learning from patient deaths. There was no evidence to show actions identified following serious incidents were reviewed for progress and led to improvements. In addition, we found examples of serious incidents that had not been reported as such.
  • There were delays in medicine administration in the emergency department, which had not been resolved. There were two incidents during our inspection of a lack of security with the drug cupboard keys. There were some issues with medicines’ management and storage, although this was mostly well managed.
  • There had not been a sustained or satisfactory improvement in the timeliness of observations, and management of sepsis in the emergency department.
  • There were frequent staff shortages across medical wards and the complicated systems to secure agency staff meant that staffing levels in areas fell below safe levels. Neurology did not have sufficient staffing capacity to provide a seven-day service.
  • The number of consultants in the emergency department and the hours they worked were below recommended levels, although there was active recruitment, and good coverage from junior doctors. The overcrowding in the department meant there were times when the nursing staff levels were not adequate. Levels of nursing staff were rising towards planned numbers, but staff raised concerns about cover in the minor injuries’ area at night being adequate.
  • The specialist end of life team did not have enough medical or nursing staff to provide a service seven days a week and cover arrangements were limited.
  • There was insufficient attention to safeguarding children. Staff did not receive sufficient training to adequately recognise or respond appropriately to the abuse of children. In some ward areas, less than 50% of the staff were sufficiently trained in children’s safeguarding. Training for both adult and children’s safeguarding was not meeting trust targets.
  • Many consultants did not have the required levels of mandatory training to keep people safe. Very few consultants had training in infection control, manual handling, fire safety, health and safety or information governance. Nurse mandatory training was much improved in the emergency department and coming up towards targets.
  • There was inconsistent understanding across wards regarding which nursing staff had in date syringe driver training and competency to safely set up and monitor equipment.
  • There was no up-to-date record of review of equipment skills for staff in the emergency department, and a number of pieces of equipment were indicating they were overdue for servicing.
  • Resuscitation trolley checks on the Medical Admissions Unit and Tintagel ward were frequently missed which meant that there was an increased risk to the patient if the equipment was needed.
  • The overcrowding in the emergency department was causing reduced access to some areas, including the resuscitation room. Emergency evacuation may also be hindered.
  • Not all patients were able to reach their call bells. These were not provided in some areas, or within patients’ reach in others.
  • We found that medicines were not stored securely in the Medical Assessment Unit and despite raising our concerns found that medicine security got worse as the inspection went on.
  • Not all patients were receiving a timely electrocardiogram (ECG) test when presenting in the emergency department with chest pain.
  • Improvements were required to how treatment escalation plans were completed by doctors to ensure compliance with policy.
  • Infection control practices were unsafe on the Medical Admissions Unit and not all cleaning of equipment was recorded in the emergency department. We observed a lack of hand hygiene at times among the staff in the emergency department.
  • There was a variable level of completion of emergency department patient records from comprehensive to poor, although audit work in the department demonstrated this was improving.
  • On regular occasions on the medical wards, we found that records trolleys were left unlocked and unoccupied. We also found zip locked bags containing records left unattended by the ward entrances awaiting collection.

However:

  • There was a much improved assessment and response to patient risk, triage and urgent treatment.
  • There was an impressive length of time given over to nurse mandatory and continuous developmental training in the emergency department.
  • Comprehensive risk assessments were undertaken, and risks to people were assessed, monitored and managed on a day-to-day basis, with good use of the National Early Warning System (NEWS).
  • Infection control practices were generally good in most areas.

Effective:

  • The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) audits were not given a satisfactory priority in the year in which they were to be undertaken. The results of the asthma audit were poor although they had used an insufficient dataset, and the audit was done outside of the required period.
  • We asked for, but were not provided with up to date audit information for some national audits. The results of these in the previous inspection were worse than the national average.
  • There was a lack of ongoing audit information to evidence quality and progress in the delivery of effective end of life services.
  • During December 2016, a revised end of life strategy and patient care documents was launched based on national guidance. The strategy lacked accompanying training and emphasis to ensure all doctors understood what their roles and responsibilities would be.
  • Whilst new end of life care plans were being rolled out across the trust, there remained a lack of recorded evidence to show end of life care provided was holistic and person centred. There was a reliance on the patient or relatives of the patient initiating and articulating any personalised wishes in order for any actions to be taken.
  • A continuously funded secondment post for generic hospital staff to work with the specialist end of life team to increase their skills and knowledge was available but not fully utilised.
  • There was little evidence of advance end of life care planning being undertaken. Most of the staff we spoke with did not recognise end of life as relevant during the last twelve months of life.
  • Discharge was not done in a timely way. All patients were subject to standards set in the SAFER care bundle. Achievement in standards of discharge was significantly lower than the trusts target. Examples of these targets included the timeliness of discharge and discharge on the patient’s clinically stable date.
  • There was no seven-day consultant cover for neurology patients. This increased the risk to patients at weekends. The use of a consultant of the week model had an impact on the effectiveness of treatment. Staff were not supported well and patients were missing important medicines because of a lack of accountability under this model. The end of life service did not provide seven-day services, and there was limited out of hours cover. All services needed to provide effective care were available seven days a week in the emergency department.
  • Appraisal rates in medicine were not meeting targets. Only two wards had appraisal rates higher than the 95% trust target. Some wards were significantly lower with Kerensa ward having 56% compliance and Tintagel ward having 65% compliance. In the emergency department, staff appraisals had improved and were heading towards target.

However:

  • There was evidence that people’s care and treatment was planned and delivered in line with current evidence-based guidance, standards, best practice and legislation.
  • In medicine, there was evidence people had comprehensive assessments of their needs, which included consideration of clinical needs, mental health, physical health and wellbeing, and nutrition and hydration needs.
  • The link end of life link meetings were a productive forum for learning and sharing clinical and policy updates and were valued by those staff who attended.
  • Records maintained by the specialist end of life team showed they were prompt to respond to referrals. Staff throughout the hospital told us they understood how to contact the team and highly valued the expertise, guidance and support provided.
  • There was a strong ethos in the hospital and the emergency department for multidisciplinary working and we saw some good examples of this. When people received care from a range of different staff, teams or services, it was coordinated. All relevant staff, teams and services were involved in assessing, planning and delivering people’s care and treatment.
  • In the emergency department, staff had the right competencies, experience and skills and professional development and competency training had improved. There was an excellent range of training for medical staff, including outstanding simulation training and production of high-quality case studies, teaching materials, guidance and protocols.
  • The emergency department had excelled in the timeliness, care and treatment of patients suffering a stroke or trauma.
  • There had been improvement in the national stroke audit. The trust had gone from a level E to a level D.

Caring:

  • Feedback from patients and those close to them was mostly very positive about the way staff treated people. People were treated with dignity, respect and kindness during their stay.
  • People are involved and encouraged to be partners in their care and in making decisions. Staff spend time talking to people, or those close to them and we witnessed staff in the emergency department at a very busy time, taking care to help patients understand what was happening to them.
  • Staff had the skills and compassion to communicate effectively to patients during times of distress. This was particularly apparent in the coronary care unit, and in the emergency department.
  • Feedback was overwhelmingly positive on Wellington ward. Staff were enthusiastic about the care they were giving. Patients felt that staff went the extra mile and exceeded their expectations.
  • Patients and their relatives told us they had been consulted about end of life treatment and care, this was also evidenced in some of the care plans we reviewed, although there was a lack of detailed written information in care records to show what had been discussed with patients and how they had been included and involved in treatment and care.
  • The new cancer resource centre provided a wide range of resources, counselling and support to any person affected by cancer.

However:

  • Friends and Family response rates were not good across the medicine directorate. For example on Carnkie ward, Tintagel ward and Kerensa ward response rates were below 10%. In the emergency department, although improving the response rate was also very low, but the trust was recommended, in those responses received, by a higher number of people than the England average.
  • For end of life care, there was a lack of survey or other evidence to show patients’ needs were being consistently met.
  • Due to overcrowding in the emergency department, there were unintentional, but difficult to avoid breaches of privacy and dignity for some patients.

Responsive:

  • Although processes were in place to support flow within the hospital there were not enough beds to meet the demand of the service. Bed capacity was full and escalation areas (such as theatres and day case surgery) were regularly being used. Additionally there were 40 medical outliers in surgical wards. This took up 16% of the surgical bed base.
  • Demand on the emergency department and the way it had been required to operate meant too many patients were, at times, waiting on trolleys to be admitted to a ward, and flow was not timely; the department had not met the target to admit, discharge, or transfer 95% of patients within four hours for at least the last two years. At the time of our inspection, this was running at around 77%.
  • People were frequently and consistently not able to access services in a timely way for an initial assessment, diagnosis or treatment and people experienced unacceptable waits for some services. During the inspection over 100 patients were delayed in hospital due to inability to access community services. Between April 2016 and December 2016 over 1700 bed days were lost because of inadequate hospital flow.
  • On average 97 patients a month were waiting longer than seven days for discharge. This increased the risks of patients deteriorating, prevented patients who required medical care accessing wards, and caused crowding in the emergency department.
  • Senior staff told us that the GOLD calls with system partners were not effective; and the call we witnessed corroborated this on one of the busiest days on record. Some system partners did not attend the call, and others were not prepared with information to provide an overview of capacity in the system.
  • Staff in the end of life service told us discharge delays were frequent and resulted from a lack of community resources. There was no information to fully evidence this and no plans in place to work with community services to address these issues, and in some areas there was confusion regarding who had overall responsibility for processing fast track patient discharges through to discharge.
  • There was a lack of processes in place to evidence if the end of life care provided was responsive to patient’s needs and wishes. Ward staff primarily relied on the patient or relatives to initiate and communicate any requests.
  • There was inconsistent feedback and evidence to show if patients spiritual and cultural needs had been reviewed and any needs addressed, and each patient’s personal choice as to where they preferred to receive their end of life care was not routinely monitored and reviewed.
  • Complaints in medicine were not being handled in a timely way and in the emergency department, there was insufficient evidence to show complaints led to changes and improvements.
  • A third of complaints in medicine were resolved beyond their timescales, and there was insufficient evidence that learning was shared across the trust.

However:

  • The medicine and emergency department services were planned to meet the needs of local people. People using the service could all do so on an equal basis. We found that some reasonable adjustments had been made to manage individual patient vulnerabilities needs. This included patients living with dementia and patients with a learning disability. We found that there had been significant improvements in the stroke service, which ensured that the design of services were tailored to meet their needs.
  • The emergency department had moved up the national rankings in terms of accident and emergency target waiting times, and the time taken to first treat patients was consistently better than the standard of 60 minutes, with care and treatment appropriately prioritised. People in the emergency department were kept informed about waiting times and alternative access to treatment in the county.
  • The cancer resource centre provided a wide range of services, support, training and information based on the needs of patients and people close to patients. The centre also provided training information and information for trust staff and other professionals who provided any services to patients with cancer.
  • We found that it was easy for patients to raise a concern or a complaint. There was openness, transparency, and a will to learn from complaints on the wards. We found examples where learning from complaints had resulted in changed practice locally.
  • There had been a drive for the complaints team to hold early resolution meetings with complainants, and these had resulted in fewer complaints progressing through to formal complaints.

Well-led:

  • Although staff understood what the vision and values were, they felt they were not able to fully live by them due to the pressures of the job. We were also given examples where senior staff had showed a lack of compassion to staff which was not in line with the trusts values.
  • The strategy was clear and recognised the challenges the medicine division had. However, some of the objectives were unachievable considering the status of the wider health system.
  • There was no effective assurance system in place for identifying, capturing and managing risks between ward and divisional level. There was no assurance that risks were being escalated and actioned appropriately. There was a lack of capacity to recognise and respond proactively to emerging risks given the focus on urgent priorities.
  • There was a disconnect between the local and divisional teams which meant there was limited openness, transparency, and a culture of helplessness from filling in incident forms or raising concerns as staff felt nothing would happen.
  • The emergency department risk register had few clinical risks; concentrated on mostly potential environmental risks; and beyond the ongoing situation with crowding, did not address known or current concerns. The end of life service did not have a specific risk register.
  • Safety and quality meetings at divisional level were of a variable standard. Whilst all departments indicated the occurrence of meetings, some departments demonstrated a lack of escalation. It was also reported by staff in some divisions that the escalation of issues was futile, with little recognition, feedback or action from executive level meetings.
  • There was not a holistic approach to the monitoring of safety and performance data, supported and informed by robust, ongoing clinical audits in all services underpinned by robust action plans to drive improvements. There were a number of areas not being considered through this mechanism, or not demonstrating sufficient priority.
  • There was a lack of audit and quality measures to fully evidence quality and risk management issues for end of life patients to maintain and make service improvements. There was no routine engagement with patients or those people close to them to gather feedback in order to make service improvements.
  • Quality improvement was not embedded across the organisation.
  • There was a conflict between delivering high quality patient care, and the time to commit to good governance and risk management.
  • Available funds and training available for the development and sustainability of a skilled workforce throughout the trust had not been fully utilised.
  • There was an established pattern of increased referrals to the specialist end of life team but there were no plans in place to ensure the team had the capacity to cope with this.
  • Leaders did not have the capacity or capability to lead effectively. There was a lack of support from the wider system, which led to delays in the management of key risks, such as patient flow. Senior leadership of the end of life service was not fully effective and coordinated.
  • In medicine, there were low levels of staff satisfaction, high levels of stress and work overload. Staff did not feel respected, valued, supported and appreciated. This was particularly apparent on Tintagel ward. More work was needed to improve the continuing poor staff engagement and staff survey results.
  • All staff we met were focused to continually improve the care they were giving. This was particularly apparent on Wellington ward where innovate schemes had been introduced to develop skills further.

However:

  • The specialist end of life team was held in high regard by staff we spoke with on the wards and other services we visited, and in the emergency department, there was experienced, committed, caring and strong leadership. The leaders understood the challenges they faced and had ambitions for improvements and innovation. Staff in the emergency department felt respected and valued. There was encouragement of openness, candour and collaborative working.
  • Despite the pressure on the wards, there was a culture of openness and transparency between the team, which was cascaded from the ward manager, and matrons. All staff we spoke with were positive about the attitudes of the matrons and said that they led the service well.
  • Staff were focused to continually improve the care they were giving. This was particularly apparent on Wellington ward where innovate schemes had been introduced to develop skills further.
  • In the emergency department, there was experienced, committed, caring and strong leadership. The leaders understood the challenges they faced and had ambitions for improvements and innovation. Staff felt respected and valued. There was encouragement of openness, candour and collaborative working.
  • There had been strong innovation and encouragement through professional development and acknowledgement of success and excellence in the emergency department.
  • The specialist end of life team were held in high regard by staff we spoke with on the wards and other services we visited.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • There was an outstanding commitment to medical simulation training in the emergency department and this extended to the production of detailed and valuable case studies. This provided education for staff, but also awareness of human factors in a busy environment, and how staff might react to those.
  • There had been an outstanding response to trauma and stroke patients in the emergency department. The department was among the top hospitals in the country for providing timely and appropriate care.
  • There was an outstanding commitment to mandatory training for the nursing staff in the emergency department with three-day sessions held to cover this and other key topics for continuous professional development.
  • Despite unprecedented overcrowding, the emergency department was calm and professional during our unannounced inspection.
  • MASH up Monday training on Wellington ward – small training sessions on the ward done by the ward sister and other relevant staff. Now extended to something each weekday. Ward sister won a trust pride and achievement award in November 2016 for this.
  • Clinical Matron for the cardio-respiratory directorate was nominated for a Nursing Times award for ‘Matrons Rounds’ – promoting safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led care, January 2016.
  • One of the respiratory doctors had organised a respiratory day, for staff, at a local pub that included training, lunch and discussion about respiratory care (there was a cost of £10). The matron said the doctor was very enthusiastic and staff were looking forward to the day.
  • The use of an electronic pharmacy system to ensure detailed exchanges of communication to community GP’s and pharmacists. This ensured that the community teams were up to date in dose changes, new medicines, discontinued medicines, and those that were to continue but were temporarily stopped.

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Review, document and implement the governance processes, subcommittee structures and reporting lines to and from the board and ensure this is communicated to staff.
  • Review the governance in the emergency department and across medicine to ensure it has evidence that recognises and addresses risks, safety, and quality of care. This needs to include actions from avoidable patient harm, progress with audits, and demonstrable learning and improvements when there are incidents, complaints, and other indications of emerging or existing risks.
  • Review and improve governance processes to fully evidence all quality and risk management issues for end of life patients, and ensure these are reported in line with the risk management policy and processes.
  • Review and implement the systems and processes for managing corporate, divisional and local risk registers and ensure that all staff are clear about their roles and responsibilities. The risk register must be improved to recognise all risks, particularly clinical risks, and consider where there are gaps in what is reported and how they are reviewed.
  • Review the incident reporting systems and processes and provide assurance this is a fair reflection of the risks in the trust at all times. Ensure any categorisation of an incident is accurate in order to ensure learning and appropriate escalation from all incidents, including ‘near miss’ events. In addition, to ensure that duty of candour is correctly applied in all cases.
  • Review how end of life patient care is captured within the trusts incident reporting system to ensure incidents reported in all categories can adequately identify if they also involve end of life patients, and improve and educate staff trust wide to recognise what end of life issues could or should be reported as an incident.
  • Present incident information with more prominence in safety reviews and governance committees with a responsibility for risk, and embed and demonstrate learning and improvement.
  • Address timeliness and inconsistencies in the quality of investigation reports for all serious incidents.
  • Demonstrate learning across the trust from patient deaths, particularly, but not limited to, any that were unexpected or avoidable.
  • Ensure that actions to improve on performance measures are robust, are actioned appropriately and are discussed at the relevant meetings to ensure senior level and board oversight as necessary.
  • Ensure a holistic approach to the monitoring of safety and performance data, supported and informed by robust, ongoing clinical audits in all services underpinned by robust action plans to drive improvements.
  • Ensure that staff receive appropriate safeguarding training to protect both adults and children.
  • Ensure that both nursing and medical staff have appropriate mandatory training to keep people safe.
  • Continue to review and put in place measures to address and manage patient access and flow, and ensure patients are appropriately discharged, working closely with system partners to achieve workable solutions to the current barriers, including a review of the effectiveness of system wide GOLD calls and the steps taken in advance of anticipated busy periods to plan for this.
  • Ensure that designated leaders have the time and capacity to lead effectively and manage governance within their divisions, departments and teams.
  • Review using the emergency department as an access point for medically expected and surgical patients to relieve pressure on the whole system, reduce breaches of patient privacy and dignity, and improve the response to patients.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate medical oversight and accountability for neurology patients on Tintagel ward including at weekends.
  • Find a workable solution to delays in the administration of medicines to patients in the emergency department, and ensure that medicines in the medical division are stored safely and securely.
  • Ensure there is a sustained and effective improvement in the management of sepsis in the emergency department.
  • Ensure there is evidence in the emergency department of governance for equipment and the environment, which includes staff competence, cleaning regimes, availability of call bells in all areas, and maintenance being undertaken when required.
  • Ensure that resuscitation trolleys in medicine are checked appropriately so they are safe to use.
  • Ensure that medical records remain secure and locked away throughout the medical division.

In addition the trust should:

  • Ensure multidisciplinary processes improve to discharge patients at appropriate times of day.
  • Ensure that complaints are managed in a timely way. Improve systems and processes to show how complaints have been scrutinised for themes and level of impact and what subsequent actions have been taken.
  • Improve governance processes to fully evidence all quality and risk management issues for end of life patients, and ensure these are reported in line with the risk management policy and processes.
  • Ensure plans are developed to support improvement in culture within the trust.
  • Ensure there is sufficient oversight of outcomes for patients.
  • In line with national guidance, routinely audit and evidence if patients are achieving their preferred place to receive their end of life care. Complete ongoing audit programme and deliver this to evidence quality and progress in of effective end of life services.
  • Identify and evidence the cause of any fast track discharge delay of end of life patients from the hospital and complete appropriate action plans to evidence discharge delay improvements.
  • Improve processes so all staff are clear who has overall responsibility for processing fast track patient discharges through to discharge.
  • Ensure that staff have appraisals when they are due to meet the trusts target.
  • Ensure that staffing levels throughout the medicine division keep people safe. Particularly within cardiology.
  • Ensure senior staff on all wards know which nurses have in date syringe driver training and competency to safely set up and monitor equipment.
  • Have comprehensive action plans in place to ensure all medical staff have education to fully understand their roles and responsibilities with the end of life strategy and care planning documents.
  • Improve staff training and records to show staff have initiated conversations regarding the personal wishes of end of life patients and those people close with them.
  • Evidence how end of life patients spiritual and cultural needs have been reviewed and needs addressed.
  • Ensure that standards of cleanliness and hygiene are maintained consistently throughout the medicine division. Address any shortcomings with hand hygiene in the emergency department.
  • Ensure that work continues to improve the waiting lists in cardiology.
  • Undertake a review of the time to carry out ECG tests for patients presenting in the emergency department with chest pain to determine whether improvements have been made.
  • Remove any temporary congestion causing obstruction to entry to the resuscitation room in the emergency department, escape exits and to the mental health crisis room.
  • Ensure there are no breaches in security of the drug cupboard keys in the emergency department.
  • Resolve the issues in the emergency department’s clinical decision unit around safe management of medicines.
  • Look to introduce a risk matrix for the admission of patients with a mental health issue to the clinical decision unit in the emergency department.
  • Consider how the nursing staff are placed when there are patients waiting in the corridor in the emergency department to ensure adequate clinical supervision.
  • Consider how to get the best out of staff who are asked to help in the emergency department at short notice, and ensure they have good support and guidance.
  • Review the nursing cover in the minors’ area at night to ensure it is safe for both patients and staff.
  • Improve cover arrangements for the specialist end of life consultant so this is sufficient at all times with a consultant with a similar level of expertise.
  • Review the electronic alert system for doctors to ensure they are able to prioritise patients appropriately.
  • Ensure appropriate skill mix review of the specialist end of life team and plans in place to meet the increased number of patient referrals.
  • Follow best practice guidance and ensure there is sufficient specialist medical and nursing staff to provide a service seven days a week.
  • Prioritise the release of ward staff to attend the 3 month continuously funded secondment post staff to work with the specialist end of life team.
  • Review the templates on foundation-year doctor rotas with Health Education England to find a solution to the ongoing issue of workload pressures on this group of staff.
  • Update the trust website to advise people of the opening times of the hospital pharmacies.
  • Make sure patients in the emergency department have something to eat and drink as often as is safe and practical.
  • Reflect on our concerns with privacy and dignity for patients waiting in the corridor in the emergency department and look for solutions where some of this will be avoidable.
  • Review the design and layout of the clinical decision unit, which has no discrete areas for male and female patients to be accommodated separately.
  • Find a solution to the poor response rate by patients to the Friends and Family Test.
  • Have systems in place to routinely gather feedback on the end of life service provided from patients or those people close to them. Evidence how this information has been used to inform service improvements.
  • Improve staff understanding that end of life care extends beyond the last few days and weeks. Improve documentation of advance care planning during the last twelve months of life.
  • Improve the completion of treatment escalation plans by doctors to ensure full compliance with policy.
  • Look at finding a solution to the lack of resources or space in the emergency department for meetings, seminars, education, IT and library resources.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 12-15 and 26 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 urgent and emergency services, medical care and surgery. At this time we issued the trust with a section 29A warning notice in regard to concerns around staffing in the emergency department and the high care bay on Wellington ward. We returned to the trust in October 2015 to review progress against the warning notice and found the trust had made improvements and met the requirements of the notice. Due to the lack of sufficient progress in all areas since January 2014, we decided that a second comprehensive inspection was required.

We inspected the trust on 12 – 15, 19 and 20 and 26 of January 2016 and visited:

  • Royal Cornwall Hospital

  • St Michael’s Hospital

  • West Cornwall hospital

We did not inspect:

  • Penrice birthing unit

Overall the trust was rated as requires improvement, with Royal Cornwall Hospital rated as requires improvement, West Cornwall Hospital as good and St Michael’s Hospital as good. We rated safe, effective, responsive and well led as requires improvement and caring as good overall.

We wrote to the trust shortly after the inspection asking them to send us action plans for some of the concerns we found. This was to ensure action was being put in place in ahead of the report being published. The areas of concern were:

  • Ongoing delays for cardiology patients,

  • Lack of robust recording of patient early waring scores leading to delays in escalating concerns to a doctor

  • The continued situation of only 51% of stroke patients spending 90% of their time on the stroke unit (the contracted target was 92%).

The trust provided us with an update of actions being taken for all of the above which included:

  • Provision of cardiology procedures at another provider organisation to reduce the length of time patients had to wait

  • A programme of real-time audit and feedback of patient early warning scores in the emergency department supported by a programme of staff education and awareness

  • Review of the bed management and outlier policy to ensure the site and bed management teams have a clear process to adhere by and which can be monitored.

Our key findings were as follows:

Safety

  • Nursing staff levels remained a challenge for the trust in particular areas of medicine, surgery, theatres, and the trust continued to use a high level of bank and agency staff to maintain planned staffing levels. Although at times registered nurse shifts were filled with healthcare assistants. While staffing had improved in the emergency department there were insufficient numbers of consultants to provide cover in line with guidelines.

  • We did however find the respiratory high care bay was staffed to the required levels even though there was reliance on agency staff patients were safe.

  • A rapid assessment and treatment system had been implemented in the emergency department and this had improved the initial assessment of ambulance patients.

  • In the emergency department we found that staff did not always record National Early Warning Score (NEWS) at the required frequency and at times escalation of a patient’s condition did not follow the trust guidelines for medical review. Audits of NEWS in other areas showed improvement but not all wards were consistent in this.

  • Staff we spoke with understood their responsibilities to raise concerns and report incidents and they told us they were encouraged to do so. They confirmed that they received feedback when they reported concerns.

  • In critical care there was a safe environment and the right equipment and the unit was clean with low rates of infection.

  • Safety in surgery using checklists and briefings, was seen to be good.

  • Most staff had a good understanding of their responsibilities for safeguarding people. However some junior doctors were not up to date with this training.

  • We found there were inconsistencies in the completion of patient records. This was in relation to the recording of mental capacity assessments around a patient’s ability to make decisions regarding whether to attempt patient resuscitation. We found patient safety was potentially compromised by these records not being completed.

  • We saw in several outpatient clinics where patient records were not stored securely and could have been accessible to unauthorised people.

  • Best practice in hand hygiene was variable with some areas meeting compliance levels and others not consistently applied.

Effective

  • The trust flagged as an elevated risk for Dr Foster Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (both weekday and weekend) in May 2015. It flagged as a risk for in-hospital mortality for cardiological conditions and procedures and in-hospital mortality for infectious diseases.

  • The trust flagged as an elevated risk for three other indicators for Patient Reported Outcome Measures post-surgery and the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme.

  • Performance against national standards in relation to stroke care had made significant improvements. Although aspects of the stroke pathway which were dependent on patient flow continued to be poor, with only 51% of stroke patients spending 90% of their time on the stroke unit (the contracted target was 92%). The number of patients directly admitted to the stroke unit within 4 hours was 38% against the contracted target of 67%.

  • The hospital was not meeting the best-practice outcome for patients requiring surgery for a fractured neck of femur. In the first quarter of 2015/16 (April to June), 68% of patients were operated on within 36 hours. This improved to 82% in quarter three. In January 2016, the percentage had declined to 67%.

  • Patients’ needs were assessed and their care planned and delivered in line with evidence-based guidance, standards and good practice such as National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

  • Staff demonstrated a good understanding of their responsibilities in relation to consent, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). However, there had been no improvements following trust audits of consent documentation which fell below required levels of compliance. In relation to end of life care we found patients who had information recorded about resuscitation that had not had an assessment of their capacity completed. It was not possible to be assured patients or relatives had been involved appropriately about decisions about whether they would have resuscitation attempted if this became a possible action.

  • Nursing staff were not well supported with clinical supervision. Appraisal rates across the divisions were poor, ranging from 20 to 100% of staff having been appraised as at December 2015.

  • There were a range of clinical nurse specialists who provided advice, support and training to staff trust-wide. These included nurses who specialised in the complex needs of older people and specialist learning disability nurses who were noted to be well accessed by staff and patients to ensure needs were met.

Caring

  • Feedback from patients and their families had been almost entirely positive. Patients we met spoke without criticism of the service they received and of the compassion, kindness and caring of all staff.

  • Staff name badges were printed with ‘Hello, my name is…’ Patients and relatives told us they liked this initiative as it made conversations already more personal. It also gave the relatives an opportunity to say who they were as some commented that, in the past, they had either not been asked, or not included in the conversation.

  • At West Cornwall hospital there was 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.

Responsive

  • The ambulatory care unit adjacent to the emergency department was operating well but limited in terms of its capacity to offer a better service.

  • Maternity services had at times struggled to meet women’s needs and staff were pleased to hear a business plan for redevelopment of the service had been approved which included the development of a birth centre with four en-suite delivery rooms with birth pools. Building was anticipated to take two years and start during 2016.

  • People with a learning disability were flagged on the trust computer system to ensure staff could respond and refer for input from the learning disability nurses.

  • Bed capacity and patient flow were constant challenges within the trust and the impact was often felt in the emergency department who were unable to meet the standards for seeing and admitting patients due to a lack of bed availability. Patients did not always receive care and treatment in the most appropriate clinical setting. This meant inequitable standards of care were provided, with some patients having to wait longer for specialist support.

  • A significant number of patients who had their operation cancelled on the day they were due to arrive were not treated within 28 days of the cancellation.

  • Some patients waited too long for diagnostic cardiology procedures because elective cardiac beds were being used to accommodate medical outliers.

  • Stroke patients did not always receive specialist care on a stroke ward.

  • The service at St Michael’s hospital had low numbers of cancelled operations over the past year.

  • The trust worked with partners to maintain flow and reduce the amount of patients who were ready to be discharged but unable to be due to lack of appropriate onward care.As a result the impact on the hospital and the emergency department continued, with crowding and long waits for patients needing admission.

  • Complaints were investigated and responded to in a timely way.

  • The trust met most of the cancer targets for outpatient appointments, however some other speciality clinics were not meeting the required timescales for new and follow up appointments.

Well led

  • The trust had a clear vision simply expressed that refers to outstanding care and better health outcomes. The trust had recently refreshed their values and did this in a collaborative way. Awareness of these values was variable across the trust.
  • An external review of governance arrangements had identified a number of cross cutting themes. The board were committed to improving governance arrangements but progress in implementing the recommendations of the review was limited. Significant changes, including new divisional structures and changes to the governance and risk frameworks were underway.
  • There had been significant and continuing instability at board level however the appointment of an experienced chairman in 2015 was having an impact and there was a sense that the leadership team which included an interim chief executive, an interim human resources director and a seconded nurse director were working well together.
  • It was recognised that improvements in culture were needed but despite the continued poor staff survey results staff at the trust were dedicated, caring and passionate about doing the right thing for patients.
  • There was a strong and vibrant community of volunteers who were well organised and supported and were making a significant contribution.
  • Innovation was encouraged and rewarded and there were a number of examples where participation in research had led directly to improved patient care. Whilst the trust had been under sustained financial pressure there was no evidence that this had impacted directly on patient safety.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • Kerensa ward had been appropriately designed to provide a safe and suitable environment for patients living with dementia.

  • Advanced nurse practitioners in acute oncology provided an effective 24 hour telephone advisory service for patients receiving chemotherapy treatment. There was an established pathway for patients with suspected neutropenic sepsis, who were seen promptly by an advanced nurse practitioner in the Acute Admissions Unit or the Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit.

  • A system of escalating concerns had been introduced, comprising communication prompts which were used to alert clinician colleagues of concerns which required immediate attention. SBAR - Situation, Background Assessment, Recommendation is a nationally recognised communication tool. This had been adapted to include ‘Decision’. SBAR-D information was recorded on bright yellow ‘escalation of care’ labels, which were affixed in patients’ notes.

  • Surgical services had a compassionate and caring approach to people with a learning disability. There was a team of experienced staff to support people with different needs, and an innovative approach to meeting their needs, which included carrying out procedures at home if this was safe.

  • There was an outstanding example of individualised and multi-professional care for a patient who had been in the critical care unit for 10 months. The critical care team, the ambulance crew, the family and community teams were all instrumental in enabling the patient to go home safely. A member of the team arranged what was described as a “huge meeting with all the people who needed to be there to formalise [the patient’s] discharge.” There had been the arrangement of two visits home for the patient to build their confidence before the permanent move.

  • The medical simulation training program training provided to obstetrics and gynaecology services (and other specialties) was outstanding. Training was provided every month and could be arranged on any of the obstetric clinical environments, or within a dedicated simulation suite. There was an emphasis on learning through the debriefing sessions that immediately followed simulation sessions. Staff feedback was consistently positive stating it enhanced team working, learning and confidence.

  • Training programmes for staff on the paediatric units which involves allied health professionals and the regular use of simulation training. A programme of training was organised for clinical staff and allied health professionals to take part in. This involved multi professional meetings with specialist speakers, reviewing cases to share any learning points and a programme of using simulation training on a fortnightly basis. The simulation training was shared across the hospital and alternated between neonatal and paediatric scenarios. The scenario was videoed for future reference and sharing with colleagues who were unable to attend. Discussion and critique was a valuable part of the process and staff valued these opportunities to improve their skills without patient risk.
  • Processes to engage with patients and the wider community such as the use of Facebook for surveys, using schools to consult with how children would like to see the service improve, using a form of real time feedback and responding to comments. There was a trial where medical and nursing students consulted with patients and families and fed back results to staff immediately. Staff said they had found this motivating and could deal with issues as they occurred.
  • The interventional radiology team had won an innovation award for their success with the vascular access service. The vascular nurses used an ultrasound scanner to guide venous access for patients who were difficult to cannulate. They had extended this service to provide assistance to other teams within the trust where arterial access was difficult to achieve. The British Society of Interventional Radiology had awarded the interventional radiology department ‘exemplar’ status following an inspection in April 2015

  • In the fracture clinic, a quick response code that could be read by personal mobile phones was attached to patients plaster casts that when scanned, provided information specific to the individual regarding their plaster care.

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Ensure all patients are clinically assessed by a competent member of staff within fifteen minutes of arrival in the emergency department.

  • Ensure deteriorating patients are recognised and treated quickly and are monitored effectively in the emergency department.

  • Ensure staff are trained to recognise sepsis and that sepsis guidelines are followed in the emergency department.

  • Ensure patients presenting to the emergency department are not re-directed to primary care services before being assessed by a competent member of clinical staff.

  • Ensure there are systems in place to prevent repeat doses of medicines being given in error in the emergency department.

  • Ensure patients’ pain is assessed on arrival in the emergency department, treated quickly and re-assessed regularly

  • Ensure systems and process for quality monitoring and governance in the emergency department operate effectively to identify risk. Results from clinical audits must be reviewed and lead to changes in practice to improve patient safety. Performance data must be collected and discussed at relevant governance meetings.

  • Take action to improve substantive staffing levels across the clinical divisions and reduce reliance on temporary staff who may not be suitably skilled or experienced. This will reduce the risk that patients’ care and treatment is delayed or compromised. Also ensure nursing staff levels enable managerial staff to fulfil their responsibilities.

  • Strengthen the nursing levels and reduce the number of agency staff used in critical care to reduce pressure on substantive staff. Alongside this, ensure there are full time managerial supernumerary roles, including the role of the clinical nurse educator, in line with the recommendations of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Core Standards.

  • Must ensure there are sufficient numbers of medical staff in obstetrics and gynaecology and the emergency department to provide care and treatment to patients in line with national guidance.

  • Ensure there are sufficient staff in the clinical decision unit and children’s emergency department.

  • Take action to ensure that all staff are supported and enabled to undertake regular mandatory and professional training.

  • Ensure staff working with children in the outpatients and diagnostic services are adequately trained in safeguarding children level three as recommended by the intercollegiate guidelines published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in March 2014.

  • Ensure that staff receive regular supervision and performance appraisal in all divisions.

  • Ensure that staff who set up syringe driving equipment are appropriately trained.

  • Ensure that medical patients are admitted to the most appropriate specialty ward, according to their clinical needs. This should include the review of the outlier policy and the consistent application of bed management and escalation policies and processes designed to ensure that stroke and cardiology patients receive prompt and appropriate care and treatment.

  • Take immediate steps to ensure that the backlog of patients awaiting cardiology procedures is eradicated.

  • Continue to take steps to reduce the incidence of avoidable harm as a result of falls.

  • Provide care and therapy to patients to enable them to receive an enhanced recovery from orthopaedic surgery.

  • Ensure the documentation around consent is improved and demonstrate the audit of consent records is being acknowledged and improvements follow.

  • Improve bed management for elective surgery patients to ensure it is meeting the needs of all patients needing surgery in a timely, safe and responsive way.

  • Ensure all patients whose surgery is unavoidably cancelled are treated within 28 days of their cancellation.

  • Ensure the access and flow of patients in the rest of the hospital reduces delays from critical care for patients admitted to wards. Reduce the risks of this situation not enabling admission of patients when they need to be, or being discharged too early in their care. Reduce the unacceptable number of patient discharges at night. Ensure staffing levels safely support all commissioned beds. Reduce occupancy levels in critical care to recommended levels.

  • Ensure that all patient’s personalised end of life wishes are discussed and recorded. This should include their preferred place of dying and any spiritual needs. They should ensure that a patients unmet emotional needs are identified and discussions with patients and relatives around end of life wishes are appropriately recorded.

  • Take further action to reduce the number of clinics that are cancelled for avoidable reasons

  • Ensure critical care staff have sufficient understanding of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards so practice meets both the law in this regard and trust policy.

  • Must take effective action to transform how midwives are supported and embed an open, honest, transparent and learning culture across the maternity services.

  • Ensure that patients considered to be need of end of life care have the designated documentation completed.

  • Ensure that Do Not Attempt Coronary Pulmonary Resuscitation part of the Treatment Escalation Plan is completed when required and is signed by the appropriate person and that assessments about patients mental capacity are completed when required and that the reasons for the decisions are accurately recorded.

  • Ensure that patient records are stored securely. Patient confidentiality must be maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act

  • Ensure the effectiveness of the blood isolators used in nuclear medicine are monitored and that this equipment is maintained.

  • Ensure that the environments where diagnostic testing takes place are adequately maintained so as to enable adequate decontamination to occur

  • Ensure the outpatient improvement board is effective in addressing the challenges to ensure patients have timely access to first and follow up outpatient clinics for all specialities and that clinics are run and booked so as to reduce cancellations.

In addition the trust should:

  • Ensure action plans following serious incidents occurring in the emergency department are monitored to ensure their effectiveness

  • Ensure nursing staff have access to patient group directions in the emergency department

  • Ensure immediate access to major incident equipment in the emergency department

  • Ensure regular checks take placein the emergency department so that patients are comfortable, hydrated and adequately nourished,

  • Ensure effective escalation processes when the hospital is approaching full capacity

  • Ensure a cohesive leadership team which is focussed on the needs of patients and staff in the emergency department

  • Continue to monitor and improve compliance with systems designed to ensure that premises, equipment and medicines are maintained and used in a safe way.

  • Continue to monitor and improve compliance with record keeping standards.

  • Consider whether the operational capacity and the range of care and treatment provided by the ambulatory emergency care unit can be increased to support admission avoidance.

  • Continue to work with partners in the wider health and social care community to reduce the number of delayed transfers of care.

  • Continue to work with staff to encourage efficient discharge processes occur to facilitate patient flow seven days a week.

  • Ensure feedback and learning from complaints is available for all levels and grades of staff

  • Engage staff in developing a strategy and objectives which drive quality and improvement in the medical division.

  • Work with specialties within the medical division to ensure that relationships with acute medicine are cooperative and supportive particularly where patients in MAU require decisions on transfer to other wards.

  • Improve mortality reviews within surgery and critical care services so they demonstrate the implementation of actions, their monitoring, and lead to improvements in patient care.

  • Ensure the cleaning of the floors is carried out to an acceptable standard at all times (particularly in the Surgical Assessment Unit) taking account of the raised levels of activity in some areas.

  • Have all staff follow infection prevention and control protocols at all times and be bare below the elbow when in clinical areas.

  • Review the cleaning checklists in surgery wards to ensure they have some meaning and used for their intended purpose.

  • Relocate the flammable product cupboard away from a patient waiting area in the Tower Block theatres.

  • Improve antibiotic stewardship on surgery wards to become compliant with the management of these medicines at all times.

  • Ensure any patient records or information is confidential at all times on surgery wards and units.

  • Be compliant with the use of the National Early Warning Score system on all surgery wards.

  • Review elective readmission rates for surgical specialties so staff understand and report within governance how and why they exceed national averages. There should be plans developed to bring them in line with national averages.

  • Ensure surgical services recognises and takes action to comply with the standards for emergency laparotomy surgery.

  • Ensure there is an effective pain tool available to ward staff and used to help with patients who are not able to articulate how they are feeling.

  • Review the competency training for newly recruited staff to ensure they are fast-tracked and able to use the skills they have brought with them.

  • Ensure patients are not being accommodated in the corridor in chairs in the evening due to a lack of a bed after the closure of the Surgical Receiving Unit.

  • Improve the use of the mental capacity assessments and associated forms used on surgery wards to capture consent decisions in line with trust policy. All patients subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ authorisation should have a care plan.

  • Ensure there are enough pillows in the recovery areas at all times.

  • Improve the trust website to ensure people can get access to appropriate helpful information online.

  • Produce a strategic plan for surgery services showing how it will achieve its objectives.

  • Review the risk register in surgery services to ensure action plans are delivering the intended changes. The service should ensure actions are realistic to achieve objectives.

  • Ensure staff are clear about what constitutes a reportable incident, and these should be reported at all times. Make improvements to the incident management system so critical care incidents can be categorised, graded and able to be analysed at local level to determine proactively any risks or developing trends.

  • Return to displaying results on avoidable patient harm within the critical care unit.

  • Ensure security of trolleys for resuscitation equipment in critical care to highlight if, between daily checks, they had been opened, used, or tampered with.

  • Review critical care discharge paperwork to provide ward staff with a comprehensive uncomplicated summary that meets the requirements of NICE Guidance 50.

  • Review and risk-assess the provision of the critical care outreach team service which was not being provided, as recommended in best-practice, for 24 hours a day.

  • Ensure allied health professional staff are used or employed to meet the needs of patients at all times.

  • Review all procedures and protocols within critical care so they are up-to-date and reflect current and best practice.

  • Routinely screen for delirium for patients admitted to critical care.

  • Revisit the National Confidential Enquiry for Patient Outcome and Death ‘On the Right Trach’: A review of the care received by patients who underwent a tracheostomy (2014). This should include a review of skills and experience of other wards in the hospital for supporting patients with a tracheostomy.

  • Ensure there is a review of equipment competence for nursing staff in critical care and training of approved numbers of staff.

  • Provide clarity around the use of restraint for critical care staff.

  • Review bereavement information in critical care services and look to improve the support provided to people faced with the death or a relative or friend on the unit.

  • Look to provide an assessment for patients in critical care for any poor psychological outcomes or acute psychological symptoms, and provide support in line with National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) guidance CG83. Provide patients with rehabilitation regimes when they leave the unit, in line with this guidance.

  • Ensure critical care strategies and future plans are part of the overarching vision of the surgery, theatres and anaesthetics division.

  • Review the risk register in critical care to ensure action plans are used to effectively deliver intended changes. Undertake audits of the physical environment under the Department of Health Building Note HBN04-02 2013 and include any shortcomings in the risk register. Include any gaps emerging from the audit of the service under the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Core Standards in the risk register.

  • Ensure there is an effective review of acts of violence and aggression committed on critical care staff to look for learning and ways to prevent future occurrences.

  • Look to return to regular unit or team meetings within critical care

  • Should ensure all serious incidents identified prior to the newly revised monitoring system have evidenced that all necessary actions and learning has been completed.

  • Should promote the use of antibacterial hand sanitiser on ward and clinical areas to prevent the risk of spreading infections.

  • Should ensure the privacy of patients at all times on the ante natal ward (Wheal Fortune) at all times.

  • Should ensure the delivery trolley is stored safely on the ante natal ward at all times.

  • Should ensure all necessary daily safety checks of required of resuscitation equipment in the maternity and gynaecology service is completed.

  • Should ensure there is a range of supplementary equipment available to support pain and labour.

  • Should ensure the community midwifery teams have local base rooms at all times in order to provide services to meet the needs of women living throughout the wide geographical area covered by the trust.

  • Should ensure there is sufficient safe storage in the community for nitrous oxide.

  • Should ensure any vehicle used to transport nitrous oxide has safety notifications in the event the vehicle is involved in an accident.

  • Should review if the older and non-standard resuscitaire on the ante natal ward remains appropriate for use.

  • Should review the storage of the resuscitaire on the ante natal ward so that it is easily accessible in the event of an emergency.

  • Should ensure systems are followed to ensure medicines are not stocked for use beyond the stated dates.

  • Should ensure there are beds available on the gynaecology ward for emergency gynaecology admissions.

  • Should ensure all policies and guidelines are updated appropriately.

  • Should ensure there is ongoing evidence of compliance with the WHO surgical checklist within the obstetric theatres.

  • Should ensure the minimum standards in the National Neonatal Audit programme (NNAP) are met for women who require antenatal steroids as a result of premature birth.

  • Should ensure all gynaecology cancer patients receive appointments in line with national standards.

  • Should prevent the cancelation of elective gynaecology admissions and prevent gynaecology patients being admitted to other specialty wards.

  • Ensure there are the correct protocols, guidance and a policy in place for the use of syringe driving equipment and that all staff receive updates on this.

  • Ensure that all wards that require syringe driving equipment can access this without undue delay

  • Ensure that all staff have training around end of life care, including training on the TEP form and the Symptom Observation Chart.

  • Review the current provision of palliative care medical cover and consider whether it would be appropriate to increase this in line with national guidance.

  • Ensure that the medical cover arrangements for palliative care are robust and clearly understood throughout the hospital.

  • Ensure there is guidance and a policy in place for starting a patient on a symptom observation chart.

  • Ensure there is a consistent approach for making referrals to the palliative care team.

  • Provide training for nursing staff in the use of a pain management tool.

  • Ensure that staff designated as the ward end of life link nurse have received training in end of life care.

  • Ensure that nutritional and hydration assessments for patients are completed consistently and are routinely monitored.

  • Ensure that all wards are aware of how to access portable beds to accommodate the relatives of end of life patients and review its provision of facilities and accommodation for relatives of end of life patients to ensure a consistent approach from staff.

  • Audit the number of patients who achieve their preferred place of dying.

  • Ensure that the pastoral care service is more pro-active in ensuring that all end of life patients have the opportunity of receiving support from the chaplains or volunteers.

  • Engage more with bereaved families to gain feedback on their experience.

  • Ensure that the End of Life Care group is fully supported by senior staff and the board and is quorate in order to be effective. That the governance arrangements for end of life care laid out in the strategy are in place and the required reporting completed.

  • Ensure that the layout of the blood labelling facilities in the nuclear medicine department to is arranged to minimise risk of contamination

  • Ensure that soft furnishings, such as waiting room chairs, in outpatient clinics can be easily and adequately cleaned and decontaminated

  • Ensure that staff understand the requirements of the local rules to protect staff and patients from risk of accidental irradiation, and ensure that staff compliance with this requirement is regularly audited.

  • Ensure that staff are provided with opportunities for protected one to one time with their supervisor

  • Ensure that patients in outpatients are routinely provided with a copies of correspondence written about them

  • Ensure that membership of the radiation protection committee includes representation from the executive team and from ‘shop floor’ clinical staff

  • Ensure FP10 prescription pad records are specific to individual pads in outpatient areas.

  • Should raise awareness amongst staff of the ‘flagging’ system to identify additional needs of patients attending the outpatients and diagnostics services

  • Address the delays for initial outpatient appointments in some specialist therapy services such as women’s health physiotherapy and paediatric musculoskeletal therapy.

  • Ensure that the environments where staff work and carry out testing are fit for purpose, in particular this recommendation refers to the accommodation of the nuclear physics team

  • Ensure information systems provide adequate data to inform and improve management of outpatient clinics

  • Ensure there is an audit trail of the medicines which have been taken out of The Hub by staff and returned if unused at the clinic.

  • Ensure staff in sexual health services are provided with appropriate protective clothing in accordance with the trust policy and procedure when dealing with canisters of medicinal gases from the main externally stored supply.

  • Review the separate electronic patient record systems used by the chlamydia screening staff and the sexual health staff to record patient information to reduce the risk of important information being missed at future appointments.

  • Review the way in which patients attending sexual health services are welcomed to reception and asked their name in order to protect their confidentiality.

  • Review the action plan in place to support the chlamydia screening programme trajectory targets being met.

  • Ensure signage around the hospital is clear in assisting patients in finding their way to The Hub.

  • Review the main entrance to The Hub so it is fully accessible to patients with some disabilities.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 21 October 2015

During an inspection to make sure that the improvements required had been made

We undertook this focused inspection to follow up on the concerns identified in a Section 29A Warning Notice served on the Trust in June 2015. The inspection in June 2015 was to follow up concerns found at the comprehensive inspection of the trust in January 2014.

The warning notice related to a failure to comply with Regulation 18 (1) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Staffing.

Compliance with the Section 29A Warning Notice was required by 7 October 2015. The inspection was conducted on 21 October 2015 and was unannounced.

Our inspection focused on the issues identified in the emergency department and the Higher Care Bay on Wellington ward, which were:

  • In the main emergency department on occasions there was insufficient staff to provide a safe environment for patients. In the children’s emergency area there was one nurse on duty, who was not always a registered sick children’s nurse.
  • The levels of sufficiently skilled staff, in the high care bay on Wellington ward (where patients who may require higher levels of care or requiring non-invasive ventilation were co-horted) were of concern where we observed occasions when non registered nursing staff were left for periods of time caring for patients requiring high levels of care.

Our key findings of the inspection carried out on 21 October 2015 were as follows:

  • Staffing levels for Wellington ward Higher Care Bay had been increased. This meant there was 24 hour registered nurse presence on the Higher Care Bay at all times including when staff had to leave the bay to prepare medications or for their break.
  • There were regular processes and audits in place to assess patient dependency and to ensure staffing levels and skill mix met the care and treatment needs of the patients in the Higher Care Bay.
  • We found that nursing staffing levels in the emergency department (ED) had been increased, using an evidence-based model to inform numbers and skill mix for the main and children’s emergency areas.
  • Additional registered children’s nurses had been appointed to ensure the ED had one on duty every shift.
  • The whole hospital discussed staffing issues at the bed meetings, held three times a day.
  • We found the concerns raised in the warning notice had been met.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 3- 5 June and 15 June 2015

During an inspection to make sure that the improvements required had been made

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

We inspected Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro and West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance in this inspection. We did not inspect St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle, St Austell Hospital - Penrice Birthing Unit or the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust Headquarters.

Overall we judged the Trust as requires improvement in the areas inspected as part of this focused inspection. Improvements were required in safety which was judged as inadequate and responsiveness as requiring improvement at Royal Cornwall Hospital. West Cornwall hospital was judged as good.

Our key findings were as follows:

  • The Emergency Department was struggling to manage flow and crowding. This was exacerbated when medically expected patients were also streamed through the department. These were patients who had been referred by other healthcare professionals (for example, their GP) who would normally be admitted direct to a ward. The Trust was consistently failing to achieve key performance targets and patients were experiencing long delays from their time of arrival to a decision to be admitted or discharged. The urgent care pathway within and beyond the hospital had problems which need focussed attention through a system wide approach.
  • We had concerns around nursing staffing levels in the main and children’s emergency area, which were placing patients at high risk of poor care. The existing establishment had been reviewed and found to be insufficient and unsafe; however, numbers had not been increased to the required 14 on days and 11 on nights. Staffing levels had not been significantly increased when the department expanded from nine to 23 major illness bays.
  • In the main emergency department on occasions there was insufficient staff to provide a safe environment for patients. In the children’s emergency area there was one nurse on duty, who was not always a registered sick children’s nurse.
  • The levels of sufficiently skilled staff, in the high care bay on Wellington ward (where patients who may require higher levels of care or requiring non-invasive ventilation were co-horted) were of concern where we observed occasions when non registered nursing staff were left for periods of time caring for patients requiring high levels of care.
  • The trust now used lockable cabinets to store patient care plans and medical records. This had been done in response to our previous compliance action. All wards but one were using the lockable storage appropriately and maintaining patient confidentiality. We saw good examples of staff responding to patients who lacked capacity to ensure they were safe.
  • In some areas patient records were not always complete and did not inform staff of the care and treatment needed to ensure patient safety
  • All areas of the hospital we visited were noted to be visibly clean.
  • There were some places where limited storage for equipment resulted in some being stored in corridors.
  • The Trust had experienced high numbers of emergency admissions throughout the six months before our inspection. This resulted in planned surgery being cancelled for a significant number of patients as medical patients were admitted to surgical wards.
  • The Stroke Unit (Phoenix ward) was not responsive in its care for patients diagnosed with a new stroke. Delays in discharging patients meant patients were being managed on other wards, affecting their access to therapeutic stroke care.
  • There had been investment in the critical care outreach team to respond to the needs of patients in the wider hospital.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice, including:

  • We were given an example of a patient with a form of dementia who needed surgery. His wife visited the ward alone before him then they went together. When he was admitted to the ward his wife was able to stay with him and accompany him to the operating theatre and she was waiting for him on the ward on his return from recovery. His wife was able to stay overnight with him and help care for him during his stay in hospital. The staff thought the experience had lessened his length of stay in hospital. His wife has been asked to write about their experience and be part of a film to be used to help train staff.

  • There were ‘patient ambassadors’ who carried out ‘point of care observations’ - spending time observing patients and understanding how day-to-day routines on wards and interactions patients have with staff may have an impact on their wellbeing. The outcomes were shared with staff and formed part of learning and development plans.

  • The theatre educator told us about the “bite size” learning that she had implemented that covered core skills for staff of all grades. She said the sessions were offered close to the work environment on a rolling programme and had received good feedback. She said when staff were busy clinical teaching “goes by the way” but staff were able to attend short relevant sessions.

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Adequate nursing staffing are available and deployed in the emergency department to ensure people’s care and treatment needs are met at all times.
  • Sufficient numbers of suitably qualified staff are deployed at all times in the children’s emergency department.
  • All records in the emergency department are accurate, complete and contemporaneous.
  • Equipment in the emergency department’s resuscitation area is readily available.
  • All electrical sockets in the children’s emergency department are safe or out of reach.
  • Action is taken to tackle ongoing performance issues in the emergency department, including flow and escalation.
  • The emergency department is responsive at times of high patient attendance to mitigate the harmful effects of crowding – for example, through a structured and responsive management approach and control of the shop floor.
  • Ensure the Stroke Unit (Phoenix ward) is responsive in its care for patients diagnosed with a new stroke. Caring for patients on other wards must not affect their access to therapeutic stroke care.
  • Systems are consistently managed to identify the extent of outlying patients and ensure easy access for staff to appropriate consultant cover.
  • Use of Cardiology unit beds for acute medical admissions does not adversely affect planned cardiology procedure admissions.
  • Discharge planning arrangements are not responsive. Processes varied and the resulting delays in discharges impacted on planned admissions and floe through the emergency department due to lack of bed availability.  This requires a system wide response to facilitate rapid discharge from hospital.
  • Delays for patients with planned admissions to the critical care unit do not impact on patient outcomes.
  • Reduce the number of patients who have their surgery cancelled and where this is unavoidable ensure that another date is booked and honoured within 28 days of the cancellation.

In addition, the trust should ensure that:

  • There are adequate infection control procedures and equipment in the emergency department.
  • A regime for the cleaning staff to follow in the emergency department, including a system that demonstrates when tasks have been completed, is introduced.
  • All medicines are stored correctly.
  • Systems to improve the reporting, monitoring and learning from incidents, complaints and risks in the emergency department are reviewed.
  • Arrangements for when medically expected patients are admitted through the emergency department are reviewed to reduce the impact on the department’s ability to manage and treat emergency patients.
  • All staff in the emergency department are aware of the guidance and protocols to ensure the National Early Warning Score is fully understood and followed as required.
  • The treatment plan for patients receiving opiate pain relief is clear and supports those patients’ specific needs.
  • Areas of the environment are inadequate and suitable for patient use, particularly the stroke unit and the changing facilities in the Coronary Investigations Unit.
  • There are sufficient staff with the right skills to enable ongoing management of the IT systems in critical care where currently there is a reliance on single members of staff.
  • Where lockable notes trolleys are provided they are locked when unattended.
  • Resuscitation trolleys are checked as required on either a daily or weekly basis according to trust policy.
  • Hand hygiene dispensers are sited so as to be obvious to patients and staff and their regular use is encouraged.
  • Review of outlying specialist surgical patients on general surgical wards is carried out more effectively to prevent delays in some patient discharges.
  • All required staff attend level 1 and 2 adult safeguarding training as part of their ongoing mandatory training programme.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 21-22 and 25 January 2014

During a routine inspection

Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro (known locally as Treliske Hospital) is a medium-sized general hospital providing care to a population of around 450,000. It offers specialist and general clinical services to the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and people who may be visiting in the area. The hospital is registered to provide assessment or medical treatment for persons detained under the Mental Health Act 1983; diagnostic and screening procedures; family planning; management of supply of blood and blood-derived products; maternity and midwifery services; surgical procedures; termination of pregnancies; treatment of disease, disorder or injury. There are around 650 beds and the hospital sees around 110,000 patients as inpatients each year. The hospital arranges around 480,000 outpatient appointments each year and around 54,884 people visit the emergency department.

To carry out this review of acute services we spoke to patients and those who cared for them 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 three days, with specialists and experts. We spoke to more patients, carers, and staff from all areas of the hospital on our visits.

The hospital had undergone a number of changes and improvements over the last few years, which had included opening a new accident and emergency (A&E) department at the end of 2013. There had also been a change in leadership of the hospital trust. Many staff told us these changes had been positive and they felt the hospital had improved and they were proud to work there. There was a high degree of respect for the executive team.

Many of the services provided by Royal Cornwall Hospital were delivered to a good standard, but overall the hospital required improvement. Patients received safe care and were treated with dignity, respect and compassion. Patient records were not being accurately completed on all wards. Records were not being held securely. The hospital was finding it challenging to plan and deliver care to patients needing surgical or critical care, to meet their needs and to ensure their welfare and safety. This was because of the pressures faced by the hospital in meeting the increasing demand for its services, combined with delays in patients being able to leave hospital when they were ready to because of capacity issues in the wider community. The plans to improve in this area needed to include the trust’s partners who shared the responsibility, either as commissioners or providers, for the effectiveness of health and social care services. The trust had made a significant investment to increase the number of staff. While that work continued, the trust was managing shortfalls by using bank and agency staff.

Patients’ records were at risk of being seen by people who were not authorised to do so. The pressures upon beds meant that patients’ procedures were being cancelled, or that patients were not being cared for in the most appropriate environment or ward. At times, shortages of staff meant that staff were not able to provide the best care at all times, records were not being completed, and vulnerable patients may not have had the additional attention they needed.

Staffing

The impact of the investment in recruitment and training had made a significant difference to the hospital and had been a factor in the improvements that we saw and that staff and patients described. This work was ongoing and in the meantime some staff felt under particular pressure. We observed that these pressures were felt most keenly in the medical and surgery wards at the hospital. Some nurses we met said they did not have enough time to spend with patients; nurse managers said they were often fulfilling clinical shifts and not their managerial duties; nursing staff said training often had to be postponed if their area was short-staffed. The nursing staff shortages were covered by agency and bank staff.

Cleanliness and infection control

The hospital was clean. We observed good infection control practices among staff. Staff were wearing appropriate personal protective equipment when delivering care to patients. We were concerned about the distribution of hand-wash gels, and instructions for people, patients, visitors and staff to ensure that their hands were clean and that they used sanitising gels appropriately. There was not enough provision of hand gel at the entrances to wards and units in all places.

The number of patients with a catheter who got a urinary tract infection was higher than the average for England in the majority of the last 12 months. The number of MSRA bacteraemia infections and c. difficile infections attributable to the hospital were with the acceptable range for a hospital of this size.

Inspection carried out on 29 May 2013

During a routine inspection

The inspection was carried out on 28 and 29 May 2013 with two compliance inspectors, a national professional advisor and an expert by experience. We looked at five outcome areas. In particular; clinical care quality assurance processes, follow up of children’s services inspection reports from 2011 and 2012, disabled access and staff support systems.

We spoke with 15 patients and observed staff and patients on a variety of wards and departments including the maternity department, gynaecology department and ward, cardiology wards, trauma wards, gastroenterology wards, children’s wards and the dermatology department, which included day surgery. Comments from patients we spoke with were positive and they praised the care, support and treatment they had received. One patient told us “the nurses have got a lot to do, little time to do it and they’ve got to do the best they can” the same patient also said “the girls here are marvellous and compassionate with each other”. On another ward a patient told us “the staff on X are brilliant, though they generally need more staff”. A different patient told us “the nurses have a very good attitude.

We spoke to over 50 staff including the medical director, interim nurse executive, head of quality and safety and quality improvement manager, tissue viability consultant nurse, speciality director and governance lead in dermatology, psychiatric liaison nurse, divisional general manager and divisional director of surgery, trauma and orthopaedics, head of learning and organisational development, learning and development nurse, divisional nurse for anaesthetics and theatres, the responsible officer for revalidation, divisional director of women, children and sexual health, child protection named nurse, divisional nurse – head of midwifery, cardiac catheter laboratory manager, coronary care unit manager, matron for child health, head of estates operations and head of human resources business partners. On the wards and departments we visited we also spoke to nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and housekeeping staff.

People who used the service were protected from the risk of abuse, because the trust had taken reasonable steps to identify the possibility of abuse and prevent abuse from happening.

The trust has taken steps to provide care in an environment that was suitably designed and adequately maintained. We found that disabled parking provided could cause difficulties for people with mobility problems due to the distance from the spaces to the pay and display machines.

People were cared for by staff who were supported to deliver care and treatment safely and to an appropriate standard.

The hospital had appropriate quality assurance processes in place to monitor and improve the services they provided. However a number of the patients we spoke with had not been advised of the process to follow if they had any concerns about treatment or staff.

Inspection carried out on 20 November 2012

During a routine inspection

We spoke with people about the service they received when we visited an elderly care ward, a trauma ward, an oncology ward and the emergency department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

People told us they had been looked after well and had confidence in the service offered. One person said “everyone is very kind and caring”, “nothing is too much trouble for them”. One person said the staff “know what they are doing”. Another added that the various staff had “explained everything” and all “knew what each other were doing”.

The staff told us they enjoyed working in their particular departments, and they felt supported, both by their colleagues and the senior management team.

Staff throughout the hospital confirmed that they knew how to report any incidents of perceived abuse. They also told us that they had access to training both mandatory training and training relevant to their particular job role.

All of the wards and departments we visited were clean. They had hand washing facilities available and access to aprons and gloves as required.

We saw that the trust had a number of internal and external audit systems in place to monitor the quality of the service provided. We were reassured that they responded appropriately when they were given information of concern. They reviewed their own processes as a result of concerns raised and made amendments to their systems if required.

Inspection carried out on 23 May 2012

During an inspection in response to concerns

We carried out a responsive review of the Royal Cornwall Hospital on 23 May 2012 between 4pm and 8pm. This followed safeguarding concerns about the care of vulnerable people who may not be able to speak for themselves. We visited Wheal Agar ward (from where the concerns had first been bought to our attention), Carnkie ward, Grenville ward, Phoenix ward, Roskear ward and the Medical Assessment Unit. The inspection team consisted of two compliance inspectors and a specialist nurse.

On Wheal Agar ward we observed people being assisted to stand up and move about appropriately. We saw that people were being offered a choice of meal and an explanation of what the meals were. We also saw staff chatting with people in an adult manner and at eye level with the patient.

One person on Carnkie Ward told us that they had been treated with respect and kindness throughout their 11 day stay. She added that the staff were completely flexible in responding to her needs. This view was reiterated by a patients on Roskear Ward and the Medical Admissions Unit who described the staff as “kind and caring”, “brilliant in the night” and “can’t speak highly enough” of them.

People, on all the wards we visited, told us that they did not have to wait too long to have the bell answered. This view was supported by our observations. Apart from on Wheal Agar Ward where the provider might like to note that we were told by a visitor that their relative had had to wait so long for assistance they had soiled themselves already before anybody arrived..

We saw staff on Wheal Agar ward struggling to meet the demands of the patients. Many of the patients needed two staff to help them and others were wandering around with no focus. One person was observed picking up a piece of electronic equipment from the nurse station. This warranted a staff member to quickly go to the lady to take the item off her. The equipment might have been harmful to her or become damaged by her meaning that the equipment would then not be available for other perople to use.

One person on Carnkie Ward told us that the staff had been very supportive to her through a difficult time and that she never felt rushed. Another person told us that the staff had been “excellent” and that they had “no complaints”. They added that they had been “fully involved” in their discharge plans and had had lots of information.

Patients we spoke to on the Medical Assessment Unit spoke very highly of the staff. Patients on both Medical Assessment Unit and Roskear ward told us that noise at night was an issue and this coupled with the medicine round sometimes happening at 11.30 pm often prevented them from getting proper rest.

One patient and two visitors on Phoenix ward told us that the “care couldn’t be better in a private hospital”. They added that “staff are excellent. And they keep us informed every step of the way”.

Two patients on Grenville ward told us that they had seen other patients wait for a long time to have their bells answered when they rang for assistance.

People on Carnkie Ward told us that the food was “brilliant”. Another person said that what they had chosen they had enjoyed. They were pleased that small portions were available as they did not have big appetite.

When we arrived on Wheal Agar ward it took over five minutes for anybody to answer the bell to let us in. Staff told us that staffing levels go in “peaks and troughs” as often agency staff bought in to help did not always have the relevant skills and experience to look after people with dementia. We were told that the directors of nursing have been very supportive and they were aware that recruitment specifically for Wheal Agar ward was underway.

One relative told us that there were “not enough staff” and whilst they were usually polite and helpful they were “a bit thin on the ground”.

Three staff on Carnkie ward told us that due to the high number of intravenous drugs that have to be given they often felt that there were not enough trained nurses on duty. On the day of our inspection they were managing with one less trained nurse due to sickness. Two of the staff said that the ward had recruited two trained nurses with previous relevant experience and felt that once they started the pressures would ease.

One member of staff on Roskear ward told us that she had had concerns about staffing levels in the past. As a result she had made an untoward incident report. These reports are seen by senior staff in the hospital and fed into national patient safety data.

Two patients on Grenville ward told us that the staff were very busy all of the time.

The nurse in charge on Grenville ward told us that he thought they were fully staffed at the moment. He told us that as the ward has a variety of patients, some of whom have dementia, he was the ward dementia lead. He was supported by two health care assistants. We observed him advising a relative about completion of a ‘This Is Me’ booklet, designed to help staff understand the needs of people who may not be able to speak for themselves and describe their likes and dislikes.

Staff on Phoenix ward told us that staffing numbers go down to four overnight even though the needs of the patients are still high with many of them needing two staff to assist them.

Staff on Wheal Agar ward told us that they had recently met with senior staff regarding poor staffing levels. They told us that they are reassured that this was being actively addressed. They said that they were receiving support and regular visits from the nurse consultant and other senior nursing staff. They said this was to ensure that the skill level and numbers of staff would enable the staff to tailor the care to meet patients individual needs.

On the medical admissions unit staff told us that flexibility of staffing was required to meet the fluctuating demand. They explained that they used an electronic rostering system and had access to bank staff and funding for agency staff if required. They said that new staff had recently been recruited and would be joining the team soon.

The nurse in charge on Carnkie ward told us that the ward had recently gone through a difficult period but there were lots of improvements planned. She felt very positive about the development plan and thought it was realistic and achievable. She added that the need for annual appraisals and regular supervision (one to one) to take place had been added to the plan and were due to start taking place very soon.

We spoke to an assistant practitioner (a role developed from the health care assistant role to provide more complex support to the trained nurses). She told us that they carried out extensive training over a two year period. She added that the role has not been completely defined and so an educator had been appointed for three months to ensure the correct protocols were in place to define what an assistant practitioner can and cannot do. She felt supported by this move and enjoyed the role very much.

Staff on Phoenix ward told us that annual appraisals were taking place. They added that if you physically had to attend training there was no problem being released, but if the training was via e-learning then it was more difficult to get protected time to complete it.

The nurse in charge on Grenville ward told us that their annual appraisals take place. He added that the ward managers had an open door policy and encouraged staff to raise any concerns with them at any time.

Inspection carried out on 21 March 2012

During a themed inspection looking at Termination of Pregnancy Services

We did not speak to people who used this service as part of this review. We looked at a random sample of medical records. This was to check that current practice ensured that treatment for the termination of pregnancy was not commenced unless two certificated opinions from doctors had been obtained.

Inspection carried out on 29 November 2011

During an inspection in response to concerns

People told us that the staff are always very busy but despite that they cannot praise them enough. They added that ‘everyone is lovely’, ‘staff are wonderful’, ‘wonderful staff and Doctors’ and that they are ‘looked after well’. One person, on the Surgical Receiving Unit, said that they had been waiting for a wash for over an hour. One person said that they had once been nil by mouth for four days because the list kept getting cancelled and that an intravenous drip was not quite the same as eating.

People who use the service and staff consistently told us that there were not enough staff.

People said that staff communicated with them well and they felt informed about their conditions and what would be happening to them.

People told us that (especially on the Medical Assessment Unit and Wheal Agar Ward) that it is noisy at night, with staff making a lot of noise with no effort to be quiet. They added that some of the equipment is also noisy.

We were told by patients, on Wheal Agar Ward, that there is no access to a television and that they sit by their bed all day with not a lot to do.

People using the service said although the staff are busy they can ask them questions or speak to them if they have any concerns. Relatives we spoke to said they had felt included for example when their relative had returned from the operating theatre.

Inspection carried out on 14 July 2011

During an inspection to make sure that the improvements required had been made

Because we were reviewing practice in the operating theatres we did not speak to many people who use the service.

Inspection carried out on 25 January and 25 May 2011

During a routine inspection

Because we were reviewing practice in the operating theatres we did not speak to many people who use the service. The very small number of people we did speak with said staff had explained what was going to happen pre and post surgery and that they had been treated very well.

Inspection carried out on 25 January and 25 May 2011

During a routine inspection

People who use services at Royal Cornwall Hospital told us they were happy with the care and support they received. They praised nursing and care staff who they said were ‘helpful’, ‘lovely’, ‘kind’ and that ‘nothing is too much trouble’. They said that there is enough staff available to meet their needs.

Comments about the food at the hospital included ‘the meals are pretty good’, ‘food is sufficient’ and ‘the food is better than in some hotels’

When we asked people about their medicines management we were told that staff were ‘very helpful and kind’ and ‘got hold of my medicines very quickly’. One patient told us they had stayed in the hospital regularly for over 10 years and had never had any problems with medicines, and was ‘very happy with everything’

Staff told us that they liked working at the hospital and were enthusiastic about their specialist areas of work.