• Hospital
  • NHS hospital

Derriford Hospital

Overall: Requires improvement

Derriford Road, Crownhill, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 8DH (01752) 202082

Provided and run by:
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

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

All Inspections

21 & 22 September, 4, 5 & 18 October 2021

During a routine inspection

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust is the largest hospital trust in the south west peninsula and is a teaching trust in partnership with both Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Exeter Medical School. They also support the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter in the delivery of courses for the Faculty of Health and Social Work.

The trust has an integrated Ministry of Defence hospital unit which has a tri-service staff of approximately 150 military personnel working within clinical services. The unit prepares military medical personnel to support exercises and deployed operations and oversees the treatment of military personnel within the trust.

The trust provides secondary and specialised healthcare to people in Plymouth, North and East Cornwall and South and West Devon. The catchment population for secondary care is 450,000 with a tertiary care role for almost two million people in the south west of England. The majority of these services are provided at the Derriford site.

Specialist services include kidney transplantation, neurosurgery, pancreatic cancer surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, bone marrow transplant, upper GI surgery, hepatobiliary surgery, plastic surgery, liver transplant evaluation, stereotactic radiosurgery and high-risk obstetrics. The trust is a designated cancer centre, major trauma centre and level three neonatal care provider.

We visited Derriford Hospital during a period of high pressure on medical services across the UK. The pressures were created due to increased attendances, changed public behaviour, reduced access to community services and increased public anxiety after the third phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also a marked increase in the acuity of patient illness, with staff seeing more severely unwell patients.

20 Aug to 19 Sep 2019

During an inspection looking at part of the service

Our rating of services stayed the same. We rated it them as requires improvement.

A summary of our findings can be found in the ‘Overall trust’ section of the report.

15 April 2019

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We carried out an unannounced focussed inspection of the emergency department at Derriford Hospital on 15 April 2019.

We did not inspect any other core services or wards at this hospital or any other locations provided by the trust. We did visit the day case recovery unit which was being used to provide additional overnight patient accommodation as part of the trust’s escalation plan. During this inspection we inspected using our focussed inspection methodology. We did not cover all key lines of enquiry. We did not rate this service at this inspection.

The trust has one emergency department which provides a 24-hour, seven day a week service. It is a designated major trauma centre providing care for the most severely injured trauma patients from across the south west.

Our key findings were as follows,

  • There were not enough available beds in the hospital to allow emergency patients to be admitted to a ward as soon as this was required. This had resulted in a crowded emergency department with patients receiving care and treatment in unsuitable environments.
  • Initial clinical assessment (triage) of patients did not take place according to guidance produced by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Royal College of Nursing. Self-presenting patients sometimes waited for up to an hour to be triaged. There was a risk serious medical conditions could remain undetected with a consequent delay in treatment.
  • Some records of patient observations were not accurate.


  • Patients arriving by ambulance were assessed and treated quickly.
  • There was a supportive and friendly culture within the department which was centred on the needs of patients.
  • Innovative ideas had been used to prevent unnecessary admission to hospital.
  • The emergency department had a committed and well-motivated leadership team.

We told the trust they must:

  • Reduce crowding in the emergency department so patients do not have to wait on trolleys in unsuitable environments.
  • Complete initial assessment (triage) of self-presenting patients in accordance with standards set by royal colleges.
  • Accurately record first clinical observations made by emergency department staff.

In addition, the trust should:

  • Improve and monitor the speed of response from senior specialist doctors when patients have been referred to them by the emergency department.
  • Regularly monitor operational performance in the emergency department at a senior level and record issues, including how these are being addressed.

Professor Edward Baker

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

11 and 18 December 2018

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We conducted a follow-up inspection on 11 and 18 December 2018. We did not review ratings as part of this inspection. This inspection was focused solely on the improvements required as detailed within two warning notices. These warning notices were issued to the trust on 13 August 2018, with the requirement to make significant improvements regarding the quality of healthcare by 26 October 2018. The following areas of concern were identified in the warning notices:

Medicines and Pharmacy

  • Significant improvements were required to ensure systems and processes for safely managing medicines were operating correctly both within the pharmacy services and across the trust. These processes also needed to be effectively governed so people were given the medicines they needed, when they needed them and in a safe way.

  • Routine pharmacy input to clinical areas had been frequently limited due to staffing and capacity issues.

  • The delivery of a high-quality service provision was not assured by the leadership, governance and culture.

Diagnostic Imaging

  • Significant improvements were required to ensure patients suspected of having cancer had timely access to initial assessment, test results and diagnosis.

  • The diagnostic imaging service was not meeting internal or national targets for the imaging of patients.

  • Leaders did not have the necessary capacity to lead effectively. This included both service management and modality leadership.

  • There were consistent low levels of staff satisfaction and high levels of work overload. Staff did not feel valued, supported, or appreciated by the rest of the trust.

We found the trust had not fully addressed or sufficiently acted on some of our concerns in the warning notice. The full warning notice and the actions taken needed better executive oversight. The detail of the warning notice had not been appropriately reviewed and acted on. However, we recognised the trust was making some progress and that a cultural shift would take time, which was relevant to both areas inspected.

In Medicines and Pharmacy we found:

  • There was progress in addressing the concerns in the warning notice, although some areas had not been well considered or implemented quickly enough.

  • There was no consistent assurance that patients were discharged with their medicines to take away (TTAs), posing a risk to patient safety.

  • Processes to review TTAs left on the ward following a patient discharge had still not been rolled out. The trust had therefore made insufficient progress in the timeliness of addressing this issue.

  • There were still no safeguards to ensure medicines had been delivered to patients using the trust transport service and patients were adequately counselled on their medicines.

  • The monitoring of refrigerator temperatures on wards across the trust was still not functioning effectively, increasing the risk of unsafe storage of medicines.

  • There was a level of instability in the pharmacy department and a reduced resilience amongst the team. Progress had been made recruiting staff, however, there was a lot of pressure and stress on staff due to capacity and workload.

  • Clinical pharmacist vacancies were reducing; however, gaps were still apparent with specialist pharmacists.

  • The dispensary and supply team particularly felt the pressures of workload because of the vacancies they were experiencing.

  • We were not assured sufficient priority or resources had been allocated by the board to address and rectify issues in pharmacy.

  • There was a lack of capacity with leadership. Adequate support had not been provided to the interim director of pharmacy to ensure a continued presence of support in the department.

  • The current pharmacy department staffing risks were not included on the pharmacy risk register. This was not recorded for the pharmacy leadership team or pharmacy staff.

  • The gap analysis against the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Professional Standards for hospital pharmacy did not adequately link to risk management.

  • Culture was improving in the department, but there was still a division, with mixed feelings from pharmacy staff. There were still staff who were upset and felt morale was low.

  • Improvements were needed in the level of engagement provided to pharmacy staff.

  • A more robust check and challenge of the warning notice action plan, through the governance structure, was required to ensure areas of the warning notice had been fully met.


  • The chief operating officer recognised there was still not enough resource to allow the trust to address the full CQC warning notice and the trust action plan. Choices were being made to deliver sustainable solutions, and they were working to get resilience around clinical support in the department. The service model required review and a new workforce model would be developed.

  • The clinical pharmacy service had improved their access to clinical areas for routine pharmacy input. The service had been reinstated on 1 October 2018, reducing several risks identified in our warning notice from a previously restricted service.

  • Governance structures for pharmacy had been changed since our last inspection, although they were not yet embedded to enable us to evidence their effectiveness.

In Diagnostic Imaging we found:

  • Insufficient progress had been made in addressing the concerns in the warning notice.

  • The diagnostic imaging service was still not meeting the seven-day internal target for the imaging of patients suspected of having cancer.

  • In MRI there were still a number of scans breaching the two-day internal reporting cancer target.

  • Some modality leaders still did not have the capacity to lead effectively.

  • We found limited improvement, and some areas of deterioration, with progress on the cultural concerns within the diagnostic imaging department.

  • Staff consistently described a culture from some modality leaders of poor attitudes and behaviours which bullied, belittled and humiliated junior staff. Radiographers felt unable to raise this with their managers or with their freedom to speak up guardians.

  • Some consultants said the workload had not reduced and most reported working harder than at the time of the last inspection.


  • There was improving performance for patients waiting longer than six weeks for a routine scan.

  • There were plans to improve process and efficiency with booking appointments.

  • There was improved management of governance within the imaging department.

  • There had been an internal review of risks on the risk registers and actions were progressing well.

  • Improvements had been made in the management structure for senior staff in the imaging department.

  • The department was now consulted when new appointments and service developments were made throughout the trust.

  • In CT the most urgent scans were reported on in a timely way.

Following this inspection we told the provider it must take some actions to comply with the regulations, and it should make other improvements, even though a regulation had not been breached, to help the service improve. We also served the trust with a section 29A warning notice requiring the trust to make significant improvements within the diagnostic imaging department. Please see details at the end of this report.

Importantly, the trust must:

Pharmacy and Medicines

  • Ensure there is a clear process rolled out trust wide, within wards, pharmacy and transport, to safeguard patients receiving their critical medicines if discharged. Ensuring patients are being appropriately counselled on their medicines.

  • Ensure the trust have assurance and can evidence processes, through review of data, that patients being discharged without their critical medicines receive them in a timely manner.

  • Review staffing establishment and skill mix for the pharmacy department to ensure staffing meets capacity and demand.

  • Review training and competency of staff and ensure staff are not working above their role and competencies.

  • Ensure capacity for leadership and ongoing support is available in the pharmacy department.

  • Ensure risks are identified, recorded and mitigated, with a clear record for this.

  • Ensure there is robust oversight of governance for pharmacy and medicines trust-wide.

Diagnostic Imaging

  • Ensure that 85% of patients suspected of having cancer are scanned within seven days as per the trust target.

  • Ensure the management team addresses poor leadership and manages attitudes and behaviours shown by some of the team.

  • Ensure staff satisfaction improves, and that staff are confident to raise concerns with managers.

In addition, the trust should:

Pharmacy and Medicines

  • Encourage pharmacy staff to consistently report incidents.

  • Confirm all areas within the hospital with refrigerators are recording the minimum and maximum temperatures, along with current temperature, daily.

  • Adapt the ward TTA trust pilot form to ensure a clear auditable trail of TTAs being collected by patients.

  • Explore ways to engage with the pharmacy department to keep staff well informed at a time of unsettlement.

  • Continue to focus on the culture within the pharmacy department.

  • Develop the strategy for pharmacy so there is clear direction for the service, and ensure this is supported by a contingency plan.

Professor Ted Baker

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

17 April 2018

During an inspection looking at part of the service

Our inspection of the trust covered only this hospital. What we found is summarised above under the sub-heading Overall trust.

19, 20 and 21 July 2016

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We inspected Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust in July 2016 as a follow up to the comprehensive inspection that was carried out in April 2015. The follow up inspection was announced, and took place on 19, 20, 21 July and 12 August 2016. Further unannounced visits were carried out on 29 July 2016.

During the previous inspection we rated the trust as requires improvement overall. The follow up inspection therefore focussed on those areas rated previously as requires improvement and inadequate.

During our inspection we inspected the following locations:

  • Derriford Hospital
  • Mount Gould Hospital

We inspected the following core services against the following domains:

  • Urgent & emergency services (safe, responsive and well led)
  • Medical care (including older people’s care), (safe and responsive)
  • Surgery (safe, responsive and well led)
  • Critical care (responsive)
  • Maternity and Gynaecology (safe)
  • Services for children and young people (safe)
  • End of life care (effective)
  • Outpatients & Diagnostic Imaging (safe, effective – not rated, responsive and well led).

We rated Derriford hospital as requires improvement overall taking into account the domains we inspected this time and the domains we inspected in 2015. There had been progress in many of the areas where improvements had been required at the previous inspection. The safe domain improved from requires improvement to good for, surgery, maternity, services for children and young people, in outpatients and diagnostic imaging the safe domain had improved from inadequate to good. The responsive domain has been rated as requires improvement overall which is again an improvement on the previous inspection where outpatients and diagnostics and urgent and emergency care were rated as inadequate in 2015. Outpatients and diagnostic imaging had improved from inadequate overall to good overall. Caring was not rated as part of this follow up inspection, but was rated as outstanding overall at the previous inspection in April 2015.

Our key findings were as follows:


  • There was a positive incident reporting culture with evidence of full investigations taking place and learning being identified and shared with staff to improve safety. Staff were confident in reporting incidents although in some areas, incidents were not graded appropriately.
  • Staff were open and honest with patients and their relatives when anything went wrong. We saw evidence of people receiving a sincere and timely apology and being informed about actions taken to prevent future occurrences.
  • There were clearly defined and embedded systems, processes and standard operating procedures to keep people safe and safeguarded from abuse. All staff we spoke with had a good awareness of safeguarding legislation and many had been given prompt cards to assist them in the identification of abuse. Staff knew what to do when they suspected abuse.
  • Standards of hygiene were monitored by staff with specific roles in infection control and clinical areas were visibly clean, hygienic and well organised. Staff followed trust policies regarding infection control and routinely used protective personal equipment (PPE), hand gel and regularly washed their hands. Although in some areas, sharps waste was not always disposed of promptly, and chemicals were stored in ward areas which patients had access to. Where incidences of infection were found, appropriate action was taken to control it.
  • Controlled drugs were stored and checked appropriately, and allergies were clearly recorded on medicine charts. Pharmacy staff worked with staff on the wards to ensure they were aware of safe protocols and any errors were highlighted as soon as possible. Following concerns raised at our last inspection in relation to insulin prescribing the trust had set up a working group to review their policies and procedures. However, intravenous fluids were not always being stored securely and medicines were not always secured on wards where patients were able to self-administer their medicines.
  • Staffing levels and skill mix were planned and implemented to keep people safe at all times and staff shortages were monitored and acted on. Managers deployed staff flexibly to cover shortfalls where possible, however in some areas, large numbers of nursing vacancies meant wards were not always staffed to the agreed level. Some gaps were identified in medical rotas and the trust was taking action to minimise the risk, for example, the introduction of doctors’ assistants had reduced the burden on junior doctors.
  • The trust had set the target for mandatory training to 100%. In many areas this was being met, although in other areas, the figures ranged between 80% to 90%. Most staff we spoke with were aware of how and when to update their training, but in some areas, for example in maternity, clearer processes are required to identify the training needs of staff and compliance with those needs. Related to this, we found staff training was urgently required for emergency procedures using the birthing pool.
  • Risk assessments, care plans, triage processes and the use of adult early warning scores kept people safe from the risk of harm, however, the use of a paediatric early warning score was inconsistent and did not ensure children at risk of deterioration were recognised and monitored accordingly. Following the last inspection there were concerns with regard to the insufficient number of child assessments and care plans that had been completed in the children’s community nursing team. During this follow up inspection we found the issues had been resolved and patient records were maintained and monitored.
  • In the majority of areas, care records were clear, contemporaneous, complete and signed. However in some areas, they were inconsistently completed, and for example in diagnostic imaging, not all images requiring documented evaluations had them recorded.
  • Records were kept securely to maintain confidentiality and prevent tampering and were available for staff to view when required in most areas. In oncology outpatients however, we found that records were kept in unlocked trolleys in unlocked rooms overnight and on the paediatric ward, patient details were displayed on an electronic board which visitors could view, potentially compromising a child’s confidentiality. In the emergency department, computers were not always logged out to prevent unauthorised access to patient identifiable information.
  • Equipment for use in an emergency was regularly checked and prepared for use in all areas. We saw in some areas that faulty equipment had been replaced; however, a number of items had not been serviced within the recommended timescales.
  • Improvements had been made to the environment in the clinical decisions unit; a new helipad had opened to provide safer and direct access for patients being transported by helicopter. Some ward areas had been refurbished to meet the needs of patients who lived with dementia, and delivery suite had been partially refurbished following concerns raised during the last inspection. However, there were no plans in place to complete the refurbishments on delivery suite. The emergency department remained cramped in a lot of areas and the paediatric unit was not secure.


  • At this inspection we rated the effective domain in end of life care only which was rated previously as requires improvement.  Although we inspected the effective domain in outpatient and diagnostic imaging service we did not rate them due to the lack of national data available to the CQC.
  • Patient needs were assessed and treated in line with evidenced based guidance. In outpatients and diagnostics, we saw evidence of audit to ensure that practice was monitored ensuring consistency.
  • Pain management and the management of nutrition and hydration was assessed, managed and recorded to ensure patients at the end of life were comfortable.
  • Following the previous inspection a local ‘quality improvements in environment’ project had been undertaken. Areas of improvement were planned for example single rooms available for privacy for patients at the end of life, there was a timescale of five two years for the plan to be completed.
  • End of life outcomes were monitored against national standards.  Outcomes from previous audits had been used to make changes to patients care. There were some improvements seen from the 2016 National Care of the Dying Audit and an action plan put in place to focus on the areas which required further work.
  • Ward staff had sufficient training and the ongoing support and help from the Specialist Palliative Care Team to deliver effective care and treatment. There had been an increase to seven day access to the Specialist Palliative Care Team.
  • The multi-disciplinary working between the Specialist Palliative Care Team and the wider hospital and local community were outstanding. The integrated working supported continuity of care and prevented avoidable admissions to hospital.
  • When people in outpatients and diagnostic imaging received care from a range of different staff, teams or services, this was coordinated well ensuring that all relevant teams were involved in the planning and delivery of peoples care and treatment. Staff discussed with inspectors how important it was to work collaboratively to meet the needs of the patient and could give us multiple examples where this was taking place.
  • Improvements were seen in the completion of the Treatment Escalation Plans (TEP) but auditing of improvements was not yet fully completed. The management of Deprivation of Liberty safeguards ensured the safety of patients.
  • In outpatients and diagnostic imaging, although most staff could access the information they needed to assess, plan and deliver care to people in a timely way there were still improvements to be made. Although the number had reduced significantly since our last inspection, there were still 2000 temporary notes in circulation meaning that treatment decisions were being made without all relevant clinical information. In diagnostic imaging although it had reduced significantly, there were still 2000 images requiring reporting on a backlog. These were being managed in a proactive way and work was still being done to reduce this.


  • At this inspection, the caring domain was not inspected because during the last inspection in April 2015, the trust was outstanding overall for caring.


  • Urgent and emergency care, surgery, outpatients and diagnostic imaging were all rated as requires improvement and medical care and critical care were rated good.
  • There was a consistent failure to meet the four-hour performance standard in the emergency department, and frequent crowding was becoming “normalised”, although the department had called a risk summit with relevant senior managers and hospital executives to raise their concerns and seek trust-wide solutions to the impact of crowding.
  • The trust breached the 18-week referral to treatment target operational standard across all surgical specialties, apart from plastic surgery, from March 2015 to June 2015, when the target was abolished by the government (the operational standard is still used by the majority of trusts to monitor their performance). By February 2016, only one surgical speciality was meeting the abolished operational standard and that was plastic surgery. Performance had deteriorated to under 50% for neurosurgery. Over the entire period, all specialties except for plastic surgery performed below the England average.
  • Since our last inspection in April 2015 the number of cancelled operations had risen. The percentage of patients not treated within 28 days of a cancelled operation had also risen. Due to pressure for their beds and the demand for their services, some patients had to use facilities and premises not appropriate for the services being provided. The theatre booking system had been reviewed and changes implemented, although staff told us there were ongoing issues with the theatre lists not always being finalised at 3pm the day before surgery.
  • The trust had a number of initiatives to reduce the number of cancelled operations. For example, the ‘golden bed’ identified patients who could be discharged earlier to free up beds for elective operations.
  • The trust had 67 patients waiting over 52 weeks for their operations, and of these 37 had not been given a date. However, the trust was working hard to reduce these and had action plans in place.
  • There were long waiting times and delays for an outpatient appointment. Although significant improvement had been made some people were not able to access the services for assessment, diagnosis or treatment when they needed to due to the management of the backlog in appointments required and high levels of over referral to services. There were a total of 30,862 patients requiring follow up but a majority of these had an appointment date at the time of the inspection. However, we found there was a proactive and innovative approach to how clinic utilisation and capacity was managed. Particularly in rheumatology, psychology and breast imaging.
  • The numbers of medical outliers had reduced since our last inspection as the trust had provided additional medical beds. This meant that patients received a responsive service and their access to medical staff had improved.
  • The acute stroke pathway was responsive to the needs of patients and staff provided a proactive service to ensure patients were assessed and treated promptly on arrival at the hospital.
  • There was not a clear pathway for patients attending the hospital for care and treatment from the cardiac catheter laboratories. The medical care group were in the process of increasing the services available to patients by the provision of a third mobile cardiac catheter laboratory.
  • Information technology systems were not integrated and delayed access to some services, particularly computerised tomography within the emergency department.
  • The critical care services had yet to establish the dedicated psychology service in accordance with the guidelines of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine core standards and NICE guidance, although had made good progress with commissioners, and already obtained partial funding for the new services.
  • The cardiac critical care unit had yet to contribute to the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre in order to obtain and learn from valuable benchmarking against other similar units. This had been recognised, and work towards supplying data was underway.
  • Complaints were managed well within the outpatients and diagnostic imaging and critical care services and people we spoke with knew how to make a complaint. The service listened to complaints, responded to them, and used them to improve patient care and support. Lessons were learnt from complaints and were disseminated well to different teams. We saw that outcomes to complaints were explained to the complainant and always offered an apology. Patients and their relatives were included in feedback and investigations of complaints, and told when practice had changed because of their input. However, in the emergency department, complaint responses were not completed in a timely manner.
  • The individual needs of patients were taken into account when planning and delivering services and patients with complex needs and learning or other disabilities were well supported. However in the emergency department, patients’ needs were not always being met, particularly in respect of mental health patients and those patients being held in the central ‘corridor’ area.
  • Care was tailored to the needs of patients, and their preferences and circumstances were understood and acknowledged. This was particularly evident with the reasonable adjustments made for patients living with dementia and learning disabilities. Relatives of patients in critical care were able stay close to the hospital in purpose-provided accommodation.
  • The numbers of patients experiencing multiple moves between wards had reduced since our last inspection. Patients did not experience moves late at night as frequently as at our last inspection. There had been significant improvements in the general/neurosurgical unit, which was discharging fewer patients at night, and this was continuing to improve. There were almost no patients transferred to another hospital due to lack of a critical care bed. There was a high level of flexibility and response from the teams, and patients were admitted to the units when they needed urgent and emergency care.

Well led:

  • We rated well led at the trust as good overall, with urgent and emergency care, surgery and outpatients and diagnostic imaging all being rated as good.
  • There was a clear statement of vision and values, driven by quality and safety. Staff were aware of the trust’s vision, values and strategy in surgery and the emergency department. However, they were not translated into a credible strategy for outpatients with limited defined objectives that were regularly reviewed and relevant. In the service line strategies we looked at, outpatients was rarely mentioned and some strategies had not been updated since 2012.
  • The leadership, governance and culture promoted the delivery of high-quality person-centred care. Staff felt that senior managers were visible, approachable and accessible; they told us they felt respected and valued and spoke about an open culture.
  • Governance structures and processes were being used to monitor and improve safety and quality, although in the emergency department the recording of meetings was historically inconsistent with limited information being captured, but this had improved in recent months.
  • There were good governance structures, processes and systems in place throughout outpatients and diagnostic imaging to ensure accountability, the management of risk, the management of performance, and regular review to gain oversight of how the services were performing. This was particularly highlighted through the oversight and challenge of the management of the outpatients follow up backlog.
  • Staff were kept informed and updated about relevant risks and the actions being taken to mitigate them, and were encouraged to share their experiences of what went well and what could be done better, although some staff felt disengaged because they were unable to stay updated or check and respond to emails while at work due to time pressures. Some innovation and improvement projects had been completed and were delivering improved services in the emergency department.
  • Within the interventional radiology department, staff told us there were issues with working relationships as the roles and responsibilities of the nursing and radiology staff were not clearly defined. Not all staff within interventional radiology felt their ideas were being listened to and acted upon in relation to developing the department.
  • The thoughts and ideas from staff on how the surgical care group could be improved were being listened to and the culture around incident reporting and learning outcomes had changed positively.
  • Patients had various forums in which they could raise concerns and ideas including ‘tea with matron’ sessions.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • A new role had been developed within the acute medical units and the short stay ward to enable medicines for patients discharges to be prepared more efficiently. A pharmacy technician was seen to work proactively and support ward staff with monitoring the prescribing, preparation and delivery of medicines for patients being discharged.
  • The access for patients to receive care and treatment on the stroke pathway had improved since our last inspection. The staff team were proactive and consistently reviewed their practice to speed up the time from patient arrival to treatment. We saw evidence of where patients had been taken straight to specific treatment areas and were in receipt of treatment in very short timescales. The staff team reviewed patient treatment pathways with a view to looking at where time could be saved and where any marginal gains could improve patient outcome.
  • There had been an outstanding response from the critical care teams and the hospital trust to those areas of concern raised in our previous report. The areas we said the trust must or should improve had all been addressed. Not all were fully completed, particularly where funding was an element of the project, but there had been significant improvement in all areas to patient care, treatment and support.
  • The multi-disciplinary working between the hospital and the community services providing end of life care was outstanding. There were processes in place to enable ongoing monitoring of patients in the community and where possible prevent avoidable admissions to hospital.
  • The multi-disciplinary working between the hospital staff and the chaplaincy enabled the ongoing parochial and spiritual support of patients and their families at the end of life. Staff felt supported by the chaplaincy and the support provided to patients, whilst not always recorded, was creative in its endeavour to meet the needs of patients at the end of life.
  • The use of prompt cards in outpatient areas to give staff easy access to phone numbers and processes involving safeguarding and the management of patients with complex needs.
  • The training provided to vascular surgeon trainees by the radiologists to ensure a good understanding of the risks associated with the use of radiation.
  • The use of radiologists on the critical care unit to ensure instant information to the clinicians on the unit and to have quick reporting times and added opportunities for learning.
  • The use of a mobile phone application in the psychology service to assist in patient initiated contact clinics. This reduced the demand for the clinics and encouraged patients to manage their own care.
  • Utilising a patient liaison radiographer to facilitate ‘first day chats’ in radiotherapy giving more time to patients and to allow the treatment radiographers to have a lessened workload and to ensure the smooth running of the radiotherapy machines.
  • The audit processes used (through the fundamentals of care audit and the departmental nursing assessment and assurance framework) to gain oversight and assurance of individual outpatient clinics and diagnostic imaging areas adherence with the regulations in the health and social care act 2010.
  • The pathway for patients requiring live-donor kidney transplantation in diagnostic imaging. This ensured that all pre-operative procedures (including a nuclear medicine scan, a chest X-ray, an ultrasound scan and blood tests) completed on one day.
  • The diagnostic imaging department achieving Imaging Services Accreditation Scheme accreditation and having ISO accreditation recertified.

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Formalise the recordings of meetings in the emergency department to ensure adequate assurance that the relevant persons are attending and discussions are held to identify learning points. Also ensure actions are recorded and allocated to a person who can progress the actions and progress is monitored.
  • Review performance data in the emergency department to ensure it is accurately captured and reported, allowing adequate monitoring and scrutiny.
  • Ensure safeguarding training for staff in the emergency department and across all areas is completed to ensure trust compliance targets are met.
  • Ensure the paediatric early warning score is implemented fully and used consistently to ensure children are safely assessed and managed.
  • Continue to work with commissioners and the local mental health service provider to ensure mental health patients arriving at the emergency department receive the care they require in a timely manner.
  • Continue to ensure the emergency department’s four-hour performance improves, with an ultimate aim to achieve the 95% standard.
  • Review the storage of intravenous fluids in the emergency department to prevent tampering.
  • Ensure that equipment stored on wards and in corridors does not obstruct or impede the access to and through fire exits.
  • Ensure all equipment in all areas, and specifically the emergency department, is maintained in accordance with the trust’s service schedule. Provide a system to adequately monitor and report on this.
  • Review the available storage to patients who self-medicate and retain their own medicines on the wards.
  • Make sure that medical records are stored securely overnight in the oncology outpatients department.
  • Ensure audit programmes associated with end of life care carried out in line with the plan and that actions and improvements are reviewed.
  • Reduce the number of clinics cancelled and capture the reasons why.

In addition Action the hospital SHOULD take to improve includes:

  • Translate the vision and values of the organisation and service lines into clear, credible, and well defined objectives for outpatients which are regularly reviewed and remain relevant and achievable.
  • Review governance processes within the emergency department to ensure full integration between the medical and nursing teams.
  • Strengthen the nursing oversight of the whole emergency department, including majors, minors, resuscitation and the clinical decisions unit for each shift.
  • Ensure incidents reported in the emergency department are correctly graded in the severity field.
  • Encourage staff to report mixed-sex breaches.
  • Use clearer processes in order to be able to identify and evidence, at all times, the percentage of staff across the trust who were compliant with mandatory and role specific training. This would also provide greater safety assurance at service line, care group and trust levels that governance information was reliable and valid.
  • Ensure that all wards and departments are adequately staffed.
  • Review why surgery has the most complaints

  • Consider staffing allocation to allow for management and supervision from senior staff in all paediatric areas.

  • Review the arrangements for speech and language accessibility over the weekend to ensure that patients do not remain nil by mouth as a result of waiting for a swallowing assessment.
  • Plan to risk assess the impact of the location of the proposed cardiac catheter laboratory, reflecting on the patient journey and pathway.
  • Review the environment regarding the safety of patients admitted to wards and departments living with mental illness and especially with the risk of self-harming.
  • Continue with the action plan to reduce their referral to treatment times in all surgical specialities.
  • Continue to look at ways of reducing the number of cancelled operations and the numbers not re-booked within the 28-day time scale.
  • Continue to look at ways of reducing the number of patients who have been waiting for operations longer than 52 weeks.
  • Ensure that theatre lists are finalised at 3pm the day before the operations are due to take place.
  • Continue to make improvements on the follow up backlog waiting list to meet people’s needs and minimise risk and harm caused to patients through excessive waits on follow up of outpatient appointments and excessive waits on the reporting of images.
  • Put process in place that ensure all diagnostic imagines that required documented evaluations have one.
  • Review the paediatric unit in the emergency department to ensure it is adequately secure to keep children safe.
  • Ensure patients in the minors’ waiting area in the emergency department are observed so any deterioration can be quickly responded to.
  • Ensure all patients awaiting X-ray in the emergency department who are not escorted have access to the portable call bell in accordance with the department’s standard operating procedure.
  • Ensure patients arriving at the emergency department by ambulance are protected from the elements as best as possible.
  • Review the transfer team in the emergency department to ensure that when patients are transferred to a ward a clinically safe handover is completed in all cases.
  • Review the hospital’s procedure for crowding in the emergency department to include the actions required by the wider hospital in order to support safe patient care.
  • Review plans to increase the space in the emergency department to consider how crowding can be reduced and patient flow improved within current financial constraints.
  • Progress the work to install an adequate area for the preparation of medicines in the resuscitation area of the emergency department.
  • Ensure wasted controlled drugs in the emergency department are disposed of in accordance with trust policy.
  • Ensure that medicine trolleys are not left unattended when unlocked and that medicines are secured at all times.
  • Ensure height and weight measurements of children are readily available for staff prescribing medications.
  • Ensure only current medicine guidance is available in all paediatric areas.
  • Review and upgrade computer systems in the emergency department to allow integration with wider hospital systems.
  • Ensure computer records are adequately secured when computers are left unattended to prevent unauthorised access.
  • Ensure that patient records are consistently completed and are kept up to date.
  • Ensure patient details in children’s and young people’s services are kept confidential and that only authorised personnel are able to access details of care.
  • Ensure that where registered nurses were required to countersign the work of health care assistants this is consistently carried out.
  • Ensure that all chemicals are secured and not accessible to patients and visitors to wards and departments. Clinical waste including sharps bins should be sealed and dated correctly and removed from the wards promptly.
  • Review the layout of wards which had six beds to a bay as in some areas this impeded access to hand washing facilities and clinical waste bins thus potentially compromising the control and prevention of infection.
  • The maternity services should ensure the birth pool cleaning policy demonstrates compliance with any manufactures guidelines and recommendations and incorporates any further recommendations from the trusts infection control lead.
  • Review the signage for the ambulatory care unit as it was not clear from the main hospital corridors.
  • Ensure staff in the emergency department all have name badges which include the role they are in. Consideration should also be given to providing patients with a leaflet that details the different types of uniforms and what they designate.
  • Make sure chemicals and substances that are hazardous to health are secured and not accessible to patients and visitors in the Fal unit sluice area.
  • Make sure the resuscitation trolley and equipment identified in theatres as needing service in April 2016 is now serviced.
  • Make sure the equipment log is up to date with all servicing of equipment.
  • The oxygen cylinder for use in emergencies, kept at the Child Development Centre, should be portable and safe for staff to move.
  • Make sure that all staff ideas are listened to and reasons given if they cannot be actioned.
  • Continue to pursue (with clinical commissioning groups) the development of a dedicated service in line with NICE guidance CG83 to support patients and those close to them in both general/neurosurgical and cardiac critical care with their psychological and psychosocial needs.
  • Complete progress to allow the cardiac critical care service to contribute to the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre in order to obtain and learn from valuable benchmarking against other similar units.
  • Ensure all patients in the cardiac critical care unit are able to see a clock from their bed.
  • Improve the trust website so it has helpful and important information about the critical care services at the hospital.
  • Should complete all outstanding refurbishments required on the delivery suite. This includes the remaining nine birth rooms, and the bathrooms and toilets which were shared between patients.
  • Should clean the windows on the delivery suite.
  • Should provide more equipment to promote normalising birth and movement during labour and to aid pain relief.
  • Consider how to raise an alert to potential safeguarding issues if parents or their children do not book appointments that have been professionally advised.
  • Consider how they manage and mitigate the risk to lone workers.
  • Consider in-house provision of physical intervention trainers to ensure appropriate staff in the children and young people’s service are fully trained.
  • Ensure that local audits for the ‘Last days of Life Care Plan’ are put in place to provide evidence or any changes needed in practice.
  • Ensure the ongoing completion of plans in place to develop rooms for privacy for patients at the end of life and suitable environments for private discussion and the delivery of bad news.
  • Ensure improvements identified by the  end of life 'quality improvement in the environment' project have timescales for completion which will enable patients and families to have a better experience

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

22 April 2015

During an inspection of this service

22- 24 April 2015, 30 April, 1 and 5 May 2015

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We inspected Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust as part of our programme of comprehensive inspections of all acute NHS trusts between 21 and 24 April 2015.

The trust has 12 registered locations:

  • Derriford Hospital
  • Launceston General Hospital
  • Liskeard Community Hospital
  • Mount Gould Hospital
  • Cumberland Centre
  • Plymouth Dialysis Unit
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust HQ
  • Royal Cornwall Hospital
  • South Hams Hospital (Kingsbridge Hospital)
  • Stratton Hospital
  • Tamar Science Park
  • Tavistock Hospital

During our inspection we inspected the following locations:

  • Derriford Hospital
  • Mount Gould Hospital

We did not inspect the following locations:

  • Launceston General Hospital
  • Liskeard Community Hospital
  • Cumberland Centre
  • Plymouth Dialysis Unit
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust HQ
  • Royal Cornwall Hospital
  • South Hams Hospital (Kingsbridge Hospital)
  • Stratton Hospital
  • Tamar Science Park
  • Tavistock Hospital

We rated the trust as requires improvement overall and as requires improvement for safety, responsiveness was rated as inadequate. We rated it as good for effective and well-led key questions. There were three services – maternity, end of life care, and services for children and young people – where caring was judged to be outstanding. All other services were rated as good for caring. At hospital level Derriford and Mount Gould Hospitals were rated as requires improvement for the well-led key question, and also requires improvement overall.

Our key findings were as follows:

  • We saw and heard many examples where staff had demonstrated outstanding support for patients and their families. The patient bereavement survey undertaken between January 2015 and April 2015 covered eight different wards and all comments seen were very positive, confirming that relatives felt that the care provided was excellent. Patients said they felt able to influence decisions made about them, and relatives felt included in treatment decisions.
  • In the maternity service we observed compassionate, dignified and person-centred care. Staff demonstrated a familiarity with how patients preferred to receive their care. Children in both acute and community services were truly respected and valued as individuals and encouraged to self-care, and they were supported to achieve their full potential within the limitations of their clinical condition. One young person said, “I have a whole heath team around me who have worked with me and my family over many years. I have always felt involved in my care and the children’s community nurse is excellent and I would like to nominate them for a trust WOW award.”
  • The trust had been experiencing a period of high activity since December 2014, with an increase in attendances at the emergency department. As a result the trust had operated at a position of red or black escalation for a number of weeks, leading to an enhanced focus on patient flow, discharge and liaison with other external organisations to ensure patients were seen, treated and discharged in a timely way. At times this proved challenging. We saw on our inspection that in the emergency department staff were sometimes stretched in being able to care for the numbers of additional patients, who at times were cared for in corridor areas.
  • People were frequently unable to access services in a timely way for initial diagnosis and treatment. People experience unacceptable waits for some surgical services.
  • At the peak of activity there were times when there had been more than 100 medical patients being cared for on surgical wards, peaking in January 2015 at 167. The increased demands on the trust’s services and beds resulted in a high number of elective operations being cancelled. The trust was also not always meeting the national targets for rebooking patients within the 28-day timescale.
  • There was a lack of robust system for booking patients for surgery. The system used was not streamlined and relied upon a number of individuals to populate the theatre lists with no one in overall charge of this process. We were told of plans to introduce new IT software to help this and re-introduce a scheduling team to take over the process.
  • Concerns were identified with the management of medicines in a number of areas. This related to some practice not being in line with trust policy and a lack of suitable arrangements for storage of medicines.
  • In diagnostic imaging there was a backlog of radiology reporting, with a total of 12,693 unreported diagnostic imaging scans in September 2014. An action plan was implemented consisting of: prioritisation of urgent scans; general practice chest X-rays taking ultimate priority; a waiting list initiative to prioritise patients at risk. This was managed by radiologists and radiographers volunteering to report on these scans as well as close monitoring of reporting capacity. As a result, unreported scans dropped to 4,750 in March 2015. However, since then and before the inspection this had increased to approximately 7,000.
  • In April 2015 there was a total of 110,657 patients on a follow-up waiting list, with 36,724 (33%) of these patients in breach of their see-by date. A total of 1,961 patients had their outcomes missing and no see-by date (meaning that the hospital did not know when a follow-up appointment was required). Of the patients in breach of their see-by date, more than 26,000 (71%) did not have appointments.
  • In October 2014 a validation exercise was started to identify and prioritise patients who may be at high risk of harm as a result of long waiting times. There were a total of 4,703 ‘time critical’ patients identified at the time of the inspection. However, progress with the validation exercise varied between service lines, as not all of them had begun the validation exercise and there remained a risk to those patients who had yet to be identified as urgent or at risk of harm from a delay in their being seen or treated.
  • The hospitals were predominantly seen to be clean and well maintained, although the maternity delivery suite required improvement in the fabric of the building as it was difficult to clean and not all hand wash basins met the required standard.
  • Levels of staffing were raised as a concern in several areas. This had an impact on patients, particularly in diagnostics in addressing the diagnostic reporting backlog. In wards and departments bank and agency staff were frequently used. While this enabled some shifts to be adequately staffed, at times there were fewer staff on duty than was required. We heard of difficulties in recruitment and retention, and how the trust was working on a targeted approach to attract staff to the area.
  • Access to the Children’s and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at weekends was not always timely. There were internal issues around the security team – although they were present, they were not able to provide practical assistance because they had not been trained in dealing with young people. The practice educator had begun a programme of training for paediatric ward based staff in the use of restraint and conflict de-escalation.
  • Patients were at the centre of the critical care service and good results were achieved for patients who were critically ill with complex problems and multiple needs. The mortality rates within units showed that more people than would have been expected survived their illness due to the care provided.
  • Care pathways complied with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the Royal College standards. Outcomes demonstrated that the majority of services provided care, treatment and support that achieved good outcomes, promoted a good quality of life and were based on the best available evidence.
  • There was good multidisciplinary working within the units and wards to make sure that patient care was coordinated, and staff in charge of patients’ care were aware of their progress. We saw physiotherapists and occupational therapists assessing and working with patients on the wards, then liaising with and updating the nursing and medical staff.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • The care and support provided to patients at the end of their lives was outstanding. Patients and relatives told us that they felt included and involved in decisions about care and treatment, and that they had been treated as individuals, with their choices listened to and respected. Feedback from all patients and relatives was extremely complimentary about the care they had received and the staff who had delivered the care.
  • The involvement with community services in patient care was integral. As a result discharges were seen to be managed quickly to meet patients’ needs. We heard and saw instances of how the specialist palliative care team (SPCT) within the hospital worked with the local hospice and Hospice at Home team within the community to improve patient support.
  • The tea with matron initiative helped patients to feedback their views about the service they received.
  • The procurement team were working with the clinical staff in theatre to review the use of some equipment and to help reduce their capital spend.
  • The use of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) pathway, which has been converted into a mobile phone app provided evidence-based protocols to ensure patient recovery was maximised.
  • The acute care team within critical care providing an outstanding service in terms of outreach and responding to deteriorating patients in the hospital. This was recognised by other staff, in particularly the surgical and medical wards. We were told the team were quick to respond, were highly experienced and knowledgeable, and staff could ask their advice and support on any matter. Staff said the acute care team had encouraged and enabled them to ask for advice or a review of any patient where, although the patient might not be triggering a risk level, the nurse or doctor had doubts or, as was described by one of the staff, “something that didn’t feel quite right, or a gut instinct.”
  • The consultant intensivist clinical lead provided an outstanding example of compassion and support to a past patient who came to the unit during our inspection. This patient had effectively become “lost within the healthcare system” for a number of reasons linked to other events in their life. The patient was not judged for perceived or accepted failings in their life so far, but was offered compassion, advice, support, understanding and encouragement to move forward.
  • There was outstanding care and support for those affected by a catastrophic brain injury. In the last five years all patients admitted into the emergency department, with just one exception, had been transferred to the critical care unit. Their family and friends could then spend time with them in the relative peace and quiet this unit afforded before their life-support was removed.
  • Staff on the delivery suite, Argyll ward (maternity) and Norfolk ward (gynaecology) provided outstanding care to patients. The culture was focused and embedded on the provision of person-centred care and treatment to meet individual patient needs. Patient feedback was overwhelmingly positive, which was also reflected in monthly Friends and Family tests. Patients said that the reassurance and care given had increased their own confidence. Staff of all professions and grades demonstrated kindness, compassion, dignity and respect. Patients were fully involved with their care and treatment and were actively encouraged to ask questions. Specialist professional counselling was available from midwives and a clinical psychologist supported women with difficult or complex decisions, care or treatment.
  • The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) clinical director was an advanced neonatal nurse practitioner (ANNP). NICU benefitted from a neonatal technician service, which staff found invaluable. The clinical educator for general paediatrics offered bespoke training and had performed a comprehensive training needs analysis to ensure staff were able to access training to meet their needs.
  • The paediatric services benefitted from dedicated pain assessment services and dedicated pain nursing staff.
  • We found staff to be very caring and supportive of the children, young people and their families that the paediatric services looked after – both in the acute and community settings. We heard many positive comments about staff going beyond the call of duty to provide care and support. Children were truly respected and valued as individuals and encouraged to self-care and were supported to achieve their full potential within the limitations of their clinical condition. Feedback from children who used the paediatric community services, parents and stakeholders was continually positive about the way staff treated people. Parents said staff went the extra mile and the care they received exceeded their expectations.

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

Importantly, the trust must ensure:

  • All staff are aware of their role in incident reporting and there are systems and process in place to monitor not only individual incidents but trends and themes.
  • Sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced persons must be are deployed to provide adequate levels of nursing and medical staff to ensure the safety of patients at all times. This applies to the emergency department, children’s services, outpatients and diagnostics, maternity services and medical services.
  • Patients in the emergency department that are awaiting x-rays in the corridor and the reception area away from staff vision are suitably monitored.
  • The safety and security of staff and patients in the CDU by providing a means of calling for assistance in an emergency.
  • The reception and waiting area in the emergency department complies with the Disability Discrimination Act.
  • Staff are administering medicines in line with the NMC standards for medicines management.
  • The checking systems for ensuring medication is fit for use, is consistently followed by staff. Intravenous fluids should be stored securely so that they are not accessible by patients and visitors to wards and departments.
  • Medicines and controlled drugs are kept in locked in cabinets in the obstetric theatre and anaesthetic rooms when not in use.
  • Medications are managed appropriately in the outpatients departments and trust processes and policies are followed.
  • Patients receive appropriate and ongoing risk assessments such as mental health risk assessments and complexity scoring, to determine the appropriate place for them to be cared for and monitored.
  • All staff have sufficient knowledge of and implement the Mental Capacity Act so that patients’ mental capacity is confirmed and to identify patients who lack capacity to make decisions, so that patients’ best interests were being served.
  • Patients are protected from risk through improvement of systems and performance in relation to the time patients spend in the emergency department.
  • Treatment Escalation Plans (TEPS) are fully completed to ensure patients’ choices and preferences and ceilings of care are identified.
  • It improves the premises for patients who are using Interventional Radiology, to make sure there is a suitable environment for patients to recover post procedure.
  • Patients’ records are stored securely at all times to prevent unauthorised access to them.
  • It improves the experience of patients by addressing the high numbers of elective operations that have been cancelled.
  • The critical care service improves the experience of patients by addressing the significantly high levels of discharge from the unit that are either delayed for more than four hours or happen at night.
  • Systems for booking theatre slots are robust and coordinated across the trust so that theatre time is utilised to provide a timely and consistent service.
  • Ensure there are systems in place so that the impact of system escalation does not delay patients who are cancelled at short notice and that they are re booked for their surgery within the 28 day requirement.
  • It provides a suitable environment for patients awaiting x-ray that will provide privacy and the ability to call for assistance if required.
  • The environment and equipment on the delivery suite is fit for purpose and is able to be effectively cleaned and decontaminated to prevent the risk of cross infection. The delivery suite did not comply with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance.
  • Care and treatment is provided in a safe way for patients by ensuring premises are safe to use for their intended purpose, that is cleaning materials and sharps materials are stored securely in areas that are not accessible to patients or visitors.
  • There are sufficient resources to ensure the cleaning of blood and body fluid spillages does not pose a risk that clinical staff are unable to meet the clinical needs of patients in preference to cleaning
  • The ratio of supervisor of midwives to midwives is at the recommended level of 1:15 (Midwifery Rules and Standards, rule 12, Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2014).
  • Staff working in gynaecology are supported to have annual appraisals.
  • Rooms used for recovery of children following procedures under general anaesthetic on the children’s Outpatients Department meets laid down recommendations.
  • The safety of adolescents with mental health issues when using any of the paediatric services at all times.
  • All children using the acute or community paediatric services have a care plan in place that is updated at regular intervals or when changes occur to the child or young person.
  • Systems and process are in place to manage the backlog of follow-up appointments and the backlog of imaging reporting, to mitigate the risks to patients of delayed diagnosis and treatment.
  • Action plans are realistic and focused on the areas of concern in relation to the backlog of unreported scans in diagnostic imaging.

In addition the trust should:

  • Ensure adequate infection control processes are in place in the emergency department while alternate entry doors are in use.
  • Ensure the safe storage of medical gases at all times.
  • Review privacy arrangements for patients arriving in the emergency department, either through reception or via ambulance, awaiting investigations such as x rays and while in the ‘corridor’ area.
  • Review the provision of translation services in the emergency department to ensure they can be provided in a timely manner.
  • Review bereavement and viewing facilities within the department.
  • Review the governance systems to improve the function, monitoring and learning from incidents, complaints and risks.
  • Review nursing leadership within the CDU.
  • Review the provision of a play specialist for the paediatric emergency department area.
  • Ensure that the facilities for multi-faith prayer are large enough to enable Friday prayers for men and women and ensure the arrangements for ritual ablutions are appropriate.
  • Ensure that patients’ dignity and respect are considered in the arrangements for discreet use of lifts when transporting the deceased.
  • Within critical care, review the nursing presence in case review and other relevant meetings. This is to ensure communication and learning from risk meetings is cascaded to the nursing team.
  • Prioritise pressure area care within critical care to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers. The target levels for patient harm from falls or pressure ulcers being considered as ‘acceptable’ at levels above zero should also be reviewed and reflected on. Data on venous thromboembolism (VTE) or urinary tract infection (UTIs) should also be captured in dashboard reports and incident data.
  • Ensure the emergency equipment trolleys within critical care are of a type to make them easily differentiated from other trolleys in use. They should be sealed to prevent tampering, or show when equipment had been used but the trolley not replenished and resealed.
  • Review the level of physiotherapy provided to general and neurosurgical critical care patients, as it did not meet recommended levels of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine for therapeutic treatments.
  • Review the level of pharmacy support provided to general and neurosurgical critical care patients, as it did not meet recommended levels of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.
  • Review the professional development of the nursing team within critical care and ensure over 50% have a post-registration award in critical care nursing, as recommended for safe care by the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine. Appraisal rates should be improved to trust levels and continuous professional development should be funded and included in this review, to ensure staff skills and rates of retention are continually improving.
  • Produce a clear local audit calendar within critical care to meet the recommendations of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, to ensure it analyses care effectiveness and outcomes and can identify where this is sub-optimal or of particular success.
  • Decisions around consent, mental capacity assessments and the use of any deprivation of liberty or restraint should be improved in the critical care medical notes.
  • Review the provision of mental health support given to patients and their families who are or have been patients in the critical care unit.
  • Ensure all patient records on the delivery suite are stored securely and have accessible monthly midwife to birth ratio figures in order to be able to confidently audit and monitor safe staffing levels.
  • Ensure the process for learning from incidents is embedded in practice at ward level.
  • Provide a staffed perinatal mental health service.
  • Ensure the information collated for the regional maternity dashboard can be displayed in a way which provides context and clarity. For example; the midwife to birth ratio figures for the trust were not easy to identify or to track any changes. This meant it was difficult to assess the how governance and quality standards had been monitored.
  • Ensure a visible birth pool cleaning schedule is available, to show that it is clean and ready to use at any time, and ensure there is a an audit trail that this has been completed .
  • Ensure staff have adequate guidance and equipment available at all times to enable the controlled removal of body fluid spillages to prevent risk of cross infection.
  • Provide a midwifery led unit to ensure the recommended choices of place of birth for low risk women. This should involve and communicate with all staff in the development, delivery and evaluation of their service visions and strategies.
  • Have a baby abduction policy, and review the policy and procedure for discharge of patients from the maternity unit.
  • Patients and the public should have access to the ward patient safety information.
  • Ensure that the dissemination of information from investigations following incident reporting should be communicated more thoroughly to support learning across the trust.
  • Ensure that service specific mortality and morbidity meeting minutes are recorded in sufficient detail to enable any trends or issues to be identified, in order to take action or learning from the minutes.
  • Ensure staff consistently complete infection control training and that patients with communicable infections requiring isolation are cared for in isolation.
  • Ensure that there is evidence that up-to-date servicing and maintenance of equipment has taken place.
  • Ensure that patients’ personal and confidential information on computers and electronic systems is kept securely.
  • Ensure risk assessments and care documentation for individual patients are consistently and appropriately completed by staff.
  • Ensure that all staff are knowledgeable about the sepsis identification and management system in operation within the trust.
  • Ensure that the system for advising staff of the medical cover for medical outliers is disseminated efficiently and to all staff.
  • Ensure that the PALS department is able to respond promptly and efficiently to patients and visitors to the hospital.
  • Ensure the milk kitchen is kept locked so it is not indiscriminately accessible to patients or visitors on Woodcock Ward.
  • Review the caseloads of the diabetes service in the children’s community nursing service in line with national guidance (RCN 2013).
  • Review the standard operating procedures for Patient Group Directions used in Outpatients to ensure these comply with the legislation and best practice.
  • Ensure that staff in outpatients have an adequate understanding of safeguarding to ensure that incidents are identified appropriately.
  • Ensure that there is adequate and suitable seating available for patients waiting for an outpatient appointment and that these seating areas are not obstructed.
  • Review the processes for the referral to diagnostic imaging scans, particularly in computed tomography to reduce the risks of patients receiving multiple scans.
  • Ensure that staff understand their role in relation to the responsibility, management and oversight of the risk registers throughout all levels of the organisation related to outpatients and diagnostic imaging.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

29, 30 August 2013

During an inspection looking at part of the service

We inspected Derriford Hospital in April 2013 and found that for regulation 10 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, the regulated activity of surgical procedures required some improvements to ensure the safety of patients.

The management of the hospital provided the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with an action plan of how these improvements were to be implemented. We subsequently received an updated action plan each month to enable us to see how the improvements were being met and any timescales remaining for completion of the action plan.

We visited the theatre suites of Derriford Hospital, spoke with staff and patients and reviewed the quality monitoring arrangements for this regulated activity.

One patient told us 'they are nice staff and it's a nice unit, staff have kept me updated but I am delayed to the end of the list, I don't think it could be helped'.

We spoke to staff who told us they had seen improvements in scheduling, morale and communication since our inspection in April 2013. Staff comments included 'There are some very skilled staff here', 'The matron and management are very approachable' and 'Nobody here wants bad things to happen, we are encouraged to speak up'.

We observed staff being supportive, compassionate and reassuring to patients who were upset or anxious. All staff acted in a skilled and professional way which promoted confidence for patients awaiting their operations.

16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 26 April 2013

During a routine inspection

This inspection was brought forward due to concerns about 'Never Events' at Derriford Hospital. No further "Never Events" have occurred since the time of inspection.

At the time of our inspection the hospital was under severe operational pressure and for a period of time was on 'black' alert.

We spoke with over 90 patients and visitors and over 100 staff. We followed seven patients in their journey from admission to discharge and found that staff co-operated with other providers.

Comments from patients and relatives were positive and there were procedures to deal with complaints. Patients told us 'staff are excellent', 'you really can't fault the nurses, nothing is too much trouble'.

Patients and people acting on their behalf were not always provided with treatment choices in relation to resuscitation.

Staffing levels and training to provide specialist skills to meet patients' needs were not always in place on the wards except on the maternity unit. Staff worked in difficult circumstances with professionalism and resolve to provide the best standard of care they could.

Patients were protected against the risks associated with medicines because the trust had arrangements in place to manage them safely.

The hospital had systems in place, including recruitment practices, to protect patients against the risks of inappropriate or unsafe care. Shortfalls had been identified in surgical procedures in theatres but this review of risk and monitoring had not developed adequately. This placed patients at risk of not receiving appropriate care and treatment.

The management and storage of records did not ensure patient confidentiality was maintained.

10, 11, 12, 20, 22 September 2012

During a routine inspection

As part of our inspection we sought the views of patients, staff, relatives and volunteers wherever we visited. We spoke with 92 patients, 21 visitors, 46 staff, ten doctors and two volunteers. We visited theatres, the medical and surgical assessment units and seven wards. We also visited the accident and emergency department on two occasions, one visit was out of hours.

Patients all told us that they felt their privacy and dignity had been respected. Most people said that they had 'received excellent care', 'staff were lovely' and 'staff were always helpful and kind to me'.

Several relatives told us that staff were kind and caring, they had been kept informed and staff had been helpful and friendly.

We saw that staff were keen to develop the service they were providing to improve patient care. Any poor care practice identified was addressed promptly both at ward level and by the management of the hospital.

Accurate and appropriate records were not always maintained in relation to the care and treatment provided to each person. Records were not consistently kept secure.

Patients told us that they felt safe and able to raise any concerns they may have. Staff were clear about their responsibilities for alerting and reporting any safeguarding issues they may have. One patient said 'staff are always busy but they have time for you'. Several people were extremely complimentary about the doctors and how they spoke with them.

22 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.

14 July 2011

During a routine inspection

The views of all people seen at all locations at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust are incorporated in this section of this report. The views for each separate hospital is listed below.

Derriford Hospital

During our site visits to Derriford Hospital and the Child Development Centre, we went to twenty ward and clinical areas in addition to the outpatient clinics at the hospital. We spoke to over 100 patients and visitors. We also spoke with many members of staff.

Most patients said they felt safe and said staff were very kind to them. We had many positive comments about staff. One patient said, 'The staff are very kind and I shall miss them.' Another told us that staff were 'all quite friendly'.

We were told that patients thought their privacy was protected and that they felt staff were respectful during their visit to the hospital. Patients also told us that they had felt involved in planning their care or treatment.

Staffing levels were identified as a problem by patients. Comments included 'There are not enough staff.' 'Things never happen when they [the staff] say they will'. 'The staff are always smiling when they do come to assist but there just aren't enough of them.'

Although, on our visit, at least 95 of the 100 patients and visitors, we spoke to told us they felt well cared for, we were informed that sometimes this was not the case. Patients mainly described the response to call bells the main problem with their care. Patients on other wards said were very satisfied with the amount of time they were waiting. Some patients told us they had not been told of why delays in treatment had occurred during their stay. Other patients on other wards described having to be moved in the middle of the night as disruptive.

There was confusion about the different uniforms staff wore. Other patients said the uniforms were very confusing meaning they did not know who to ask for what. One person said 'It's enough to make any one muddled'.

We were told that patients were pleased with the way they received their medicines in hospital. Some patients told us that they had to wait for medicines to take home on some occasions, but most patients said that they hadn't had to wait too long.

The views about the food provided within the hospital continued to vary. Comments included 'very good' and 'excellent' to 'awful' and 'like school dinners, you either loved them or hate them.'

Patients thought staff worked very hard to keep ward areas clean. Patients and visitors complained to us about the car park, because of the cost and additional stress when appointment times were delayed or were late. Patients appreciated the access to the faith-room facilities, religious services and mobile shop run by the voluntary service.

Patients told us they knew how to complain and that if they had any concerns they would raise them straight away with the staff on the ward. People also knew about the Patient Advisory and Liaison (PALS) team, although confidence was not high regarding the way complaints were currently managed.

Royal Eye Infirmary

We visited all areas of the Infirmary. We spoke with thirteen patients, four of which were children. We also spoke with 6 relatives, 6 parents and 9 members of staff.

Patients said they thought their care and treatment at the Eye Infirmary was very good. We were told 'The staff care for me beautifully, they are wonderful and excellent' and 'The staff are lovely, very reassuring and calming'.

We were told that patients were very satisfied with the information given either verbally or in leaflets (including some in large print) and all were confident that they knew exactly the nature of their treatment. One person said 'The paperwork received was very good'.

Mount Gould

We visited the clinic areas, at Mount Gould Hospital, that Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust use. We spoke with four members of staff and four patients. We also spoke with one relative.

All patients spoken with said they were well cared for and the treatment they had received was very good. All comments about staff were positive. Patients felt there were enough staff in attendance. Comments included 'I waited no time at all'.

One patient said, 'I was anxious, but the Dr made me feel so much better, she put me at ease'. This person went onto say that the Doctor had asked lots of questions and was very interested. 'I felt very involved in my care'. Another patient said 'The doctors are lovely.'


Headquarters is a 'virtual location' based at Derriford Hospital. It is used to organise community services (mainly maternity). It involves the organisation of midwives working in the community including at peoples homes, local GP clinics and children centres. We visited one children's centre where we spoke with one midwife, three women and one partner.

All women we spoke with said they had felt respected during the pregnancy, birth and post delivery period. Women explained that they had been given enough information throughout their pregnancy. The feedback regarding care was positive. One woman said 'Its been nothing but brilliant'. Another woman said 'My midwives have been lovely, I've had the same one most of the way through, it did not matter to me who I saw as they are all lovely.'

Two of the three women and the partner we spoke with said they had not needed to complain. However, none of the women or partner we spoke with knew how to make a complaint.

Tavistock Hospital

We visited the operating department and outpatient department at the hospital. We spoke with 7 patients, 3 relatives and 7 members of staff.

Patients said staff caring for them were respectful about what their needs were. One patient said 'they really took time to find out about me and put me at my ease.'

Patients all agreed that the care and treatment they received was excellent. Each person said that from the time of entering Tavistock Hospital they were well cared for having everything clearly explained. The positive feedback also referred to reception staff, nurses and doctors.

Kingsbridge Hospital

We visited two departments at Kingsbridge Hospital. We spoke with 3 patients and 5 members of staff.

Patients said they had been given a choice of going to Kingsbridge hospital or Derriford. One patient told us 'It is more convenient to visit Kingsbridge hospital rather than go into Plymouth.' All comments about the hospital and care were positive. One patient said 'I come here regularly for treatment and they are all excellent.'

Cumberland Centre

We visited the x ray department, physiotherapy department and outpatients clinic. We spoke with 4 members of staff, three relatives or escorts and 4 patients.

All comments received about the staff, and the care provided at the Cumberland centre, were positive. Patients told us they thought staff had been 'Very polite and friendly' during their care. One person said 'It is so nice coming here rather than going up to the main hospital.' Another patient said the care they had received was, 'Brilliant' and added that 'they have cured my pain'.

Liskeard Hospital

We were unable to speak with any patients on the day of our visit to Liskeard Hospital because either clinics were not running that day, or had been cancelled. We were able to read a comment book left in reception in which people visiting the hospital had added numerous comments. All comments read were positive. These include people saying it was the best hospital they'd ever visited and commented about the excellent staff and excellent service provided.

22 March 2011

During a themed inspection looking at Dignity and Nutrition

During our visit patients told us they felt involved in their care and were very complimentary about the staff. Patients said they felt they had been treated with respect whilst in hospital and not felt embarrassed or uncomfortable during their stay. One person said 'They are very caring and they listen and answer my questions'.

Without exception, patients told us they thought they had their needs met. Patients told us staff encouraged them to 'do as much as possible to keep active'. One person said 'staff check I am OK and then just check on me now again. I find this very reassuring'. Patients talked of feeling involved in their care but also of 'trusting' doctors and nurses.

The feedback about the taste of the food was varied, although everyone said there was enough to eat. Some patients said the food was awful, whilst others said it was the highlight of their day. One person said 'I have an arrangement with the housekeeper to give me a larger portion of potatoes.

One person said 'Everything was in place' about their special diet, 'from the moment I stepped into the ward. I usually have a choice from two or three items each mealtime and fellow patients sometimes say they wish they could have my meals as well'.

1 February and 28 March 2011

During an inspection looking at part of the service

Because we were reviewing practice in the operating theatres we did not speak to patients.

16 February 2011

During an inspection in response to concerns

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 been very kind and that they had been treated very well.