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The Whittington Hospital Good


Other CQC inspections of services

Community & mental health inspection reports for The Whittington Hospital can be found at Whittington Health NHS Trust.

Inspection carried out on 3 December 2019 to 15 January 2020

During a routine inspection

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

  • The services had enough staff to care for patients and keep them safe. Most staff had training in key skills, understood how to protect patients from abuse, and managed safety well. Staff assessed risks to patients, acted on them and kept good care records. The service managed safety incidents well and learned lessons from them. Staff collected safety information and used it to improve the service.
  • Staff provided good care and treatment, gave patients enough to eat and drink, and gave them pain relief when they needed it. Managers monitored the effectiveness of the service and made sure staff were competent. Most staff worked well together for the benefit of patients, advised them on how to lead healthier lives, supported them to make decisions about their care, and had access to good information. Key services were available seven days a week.
  • Staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity, and took account of their individual needs. They provided emotional support to patients, families and carers to minimise their distress.
  • The service planned care to meet the needs of local people, took account of patients’ individual needs. People could access the service when they needed it. Staff understood the patient's personal, cultural and religious needs.
  • Most service leaders ran services well using reliable information systems and supported staff to develop their skills. Staff felt respected, supported and valued. They were focused on the needs of patients receiving care. Staff were clear about their roles and accountabilities. The services engaged with patients and the community to plan and manage services and staff were committed to improving services continually.

Inspection carried out on 31 October 2017

During a routine inspection

Inspection carried out on 8 - 11 December 2015

During a routine inspection

The Whittington Hospital has approximately 320 beds, and is registered across 3 locations registered with CQC: Whittington Hospital (includes community services) , Hanley Primary Care Centre (GP practice and community centre) and St Luke's Hospital (Simmons House) multi-disciplinary MH service for 13-18 year olds with emotional and mental health problems.

We carried out an announced inspection between 8 and 11 December 2015. We also undertook unannounced visits on 14, 15 and 17 December 2015.

We inspected eight core services: Urgent and Emergency Care, Medicine (including older people’s care, Surgery, Critical Care, Maternity and Gynaecology, Services for children, End of life and Outpatients and diagnostic services.

This was the first inspection of Whittington Hospital under the new methodology. We have rated the trust as good overall, with some individual core services as requires improvement.

In relation to core services most were rated good with critical care and outpatients and diagnostics rated as requires improvement.

Our key findings were as follows:

  • During our inspection we found staff to be highly committed to the trust and delivering high quality patient care.
  • We saw staff provided compassionate care and patients were positive about the care they received and felt staff treated them with dignity and respect.
  • The trust had vacancies across all staff groups, but was recruiting staff and staffing levels were maintained in services through the use of bank and agency staff.
  • Staff were aware of how to recognise if a child or adult was being abused and received good support and training from the trust's safeguarding team.
  • The trust had an incident reporting process and staff were reporting incidents and receiving feedback. Learning was shared across ICSU’s which encompassed acute and community service.
  • The trust had promoted duty of candour and this was seen to be cascaded through the organisation.
  • We observed effective infection prevention and control practices in the majority of areas we inspected.
  • Patient care was informed by national guidance and best practice guidelines and staff had access to polices and procedures.
  • Patients had their nutritional needs met and received support with eating and drinking.
  • There was good team and multidisciplinary working across all staff groups and with clinical commissioning groups, voluntary organisations and social services to deliver effective patient care.
  • We found evidence of good compliance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) surgical safety checklist, with good completion of the three compulsory elements: sign in, time out and sign out.
  • There were processes in place to ensure staff attended training on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the majority of staff demonstrated a good practical understanding of this, with variability in some services,
  • Staff understood and responded to the needs of the different population groups the trust served and worked hard to meet the needs of individual patients.
  • Patients were largely treated in timely manner with the trust meeting national access targets and performing higher than the England average, with the exception of the cancer two week wait standard, although it was noted that improvements were being made against that standard.
  • The emergency department (ED) performed better than the average ED in England in the speed of initial assessment, the timeliness of ambulance handover, and the percentage of people staying for more four hours in the department. However, there were times when there were no in-patient beds available and patients remained in ED for a long time.
  • The trust had introduced the ambulatory care unit, which engaged stakeholders across the health and social care economy to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and transfer their ongoing care needs to the most appropriate provider.
  • Patient flow out of theatres and critical care, impacted on patient movement and service capacity.
  • Executive and non executive members of the trust were visible in most areas, in both acute and community settings.
  • The trust had a clear vision and strategy, the development of this into local strategies were in place in some areas, but were still being developed in some cases.
  • Staff were positive about how their local and senior managers engaged with them.

We saw several areas of outstanding practice including:

  • Whittington Health NHS Trust worked with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and other providers to improve the responsiveness of emergency and urgent care services for local people. The Ambulatory Care Centre, which opened in 2014, provided person-centred hospital level treatment without the need for admission.
  • Within the Ambulatory Care Centre we observed good multidisciplinary working across hospital services, including diagnostics, care of the elderly physicians, therapists, pharmacists, and medical and surgery specialities to provide effective treatment and care.
  • Elderly care pathways had been well thought out and designed to either avoid elderly patients having to go to ED or if they do, making sure that their medical and social care needs are quickly assessed.
  • Within the ED there was outstanding work to protect people from abuse. The lead consultant and nurse for safeguarding coordinated weekly meetings attended by relevant trust wide staff to discuss people at risk and to make plans to keep them safe.
  • Within children and young people’s services responsiveness was demonstrated through close working arrangements with community-based services including the ‘hospital at home’ service which ensured that children could expect to be cared for at home via community nursing services.
  • The trust provided ‘Hope courses’ for patients who had been on cancer pathways to get together outside of hospital, and hear from motivational speakers including talks on personal wellbeing, nutrition and recovery care.

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

Importantly, the trust must:

  • Within the Emergency Department (ED) there was not sufficient consultant cover and there were vacant middle grade medical posts, covered by locum (temporary) doctors, which poses a risk to delivery of care and training staff.
  • Within acute outpatient departments the hospital must improve storage of records and ensure patient’s personally identifiable information is kept confidential.
  • Within the acute outpatient setting, improve disposal of confidential waste bags left in reception areas overnight.
  • Within surgery and theatres review bed capacity to ensure patients are not staying in recovery beds overnight.
  • Within critical care the trust must review capacity and outflow of patients. We observed significant issues with the flow of patients out of critical care and found data suggesting 20% of patient bed days were attributed to patients who should have been cared for in a general ward environment. This led to mixed sex accommodation breaches, a high proportion of delayed discharges from critical care and a number of patients discharged home directly from the unit
  • Within critical care the service must review governance processes and use of the risk register. We were concerned there was a culture of underreporting incidents and near misses and the importance of proactive incident reporting should be promoted.
  • Within critical care staff did not challenge visitors entering the unit and we were concerned patients could be at risk if the unit was accessed inappropriately.
  • Within maternity services the department must ensure the information captured for the safety thermometer tool is visible and shared with both patients and staff in accessible way.
  • Within maternity the service must ensure the safety of women undergoing elective procedures in the second obstetric theatre and agree formal cover arrangements.
  • Within palliative care the service did not meet the requirement set by the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland, and the National Council for Palliative Care related to number of palliative care consultant working at the hospital.
  • Within palliative care services staff were not always aware of patient’s wishes in regards to their ‘preferred place of death’. They did not always record and analyse if patients were cared for at their ‘preferred place of care’.

In addition the trust should:

  • Take further action to improve safe nurse staffing levels across the surgery service, particularly within main operating theatres and recovery.
  • Improve consistency of labelling medical equipment that is clean across surgery wards and operating theatres.
  • Ensure healthcare assistants on surgery wards are given competency appropriate tasks and supervision at all times.
  • Improve bed management across the hospital to ensure post-operative patients are allocated to a ward in a safe and timely way.
  • Ensure all recorded risks in the surgery service are addressed in a timely way.
  • Improve engagement with consultant surgeons and anaesthetists working in the surgery service.
  • Improve leadership support and capacity within operating theatres.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 8, 17 January 2014

During a routine inspection

During the two days of our inspection we visited a range of departments in the hospital. We visited the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E); Isis, Mercers, Meyrick, Bridges and Coyle wards; the Day Treatment Centre; endoscopy diagnostic services; and a range of outpatient services, including the breast clinic, urology clinic, ear nose and throat clinic, upper gastroenterology clinic and bariatric clinic. We also visited the medical records department, medical secretaries and appointments booking team. We spoke with many hospital staff performing a wide range of different roles.

Most of the patients we spoke with told us that they were happy with the care and treatment provided by the trust, felt their dignity was respected and that staff were friendly, polite and knowledgeable. Examples of comments we received include �the staff are good� and I �cannot complain at all, they [the staff] try and keep all the patients well looked after.�

We found that many services were delivered very well and patients received a high standard of care. On the days we visited, the Accident and Emergency Department was extremely busy and patients needing to be admitted were experiencing very long waits for inpatient beds. However, we found that the trust was putting in measures to manage these delays.

We found two areas where improvements were required. Some patients were waiting a long time in outpatients. This had happened repeatedly for some people and they had not been given clear information about the delays. We also found several aspects of the care on Meyrick Ward that needed improving to ensure patient safety and welfare was maintained.

People who use the service were protected from the risk of abuse, because the provider had taken reasonable steps to identify the possibility of abuse and prevent abuse from happening. However, whilst safeguarding processes are in place, further work is needed to embed and use information from these systems. In addition, whilst training was being undertaken in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and processes are in place, staff are not yet confidently applying this learning and consistently adopting these processes across the trust.

There were enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people�s needs although recruitment in some areas, for example middle grade doctors in A&E , remains a challenge. People were cared for by staff who mostly felt well supported, although monitoring the health and morale of staff affected by the trust�s Transforming Patient Experience programme needs improvement.

There was an effective complaints system available. Comments and complaints from patients were responded to appropriately. However, the trust was failing to meet its own targets in terms of responding to complaints within set timescales. The trust was aware of this issue and was recruiting extra staff to address it.

Inspection carried out on 24, 25, 30 July 2013

During a routine inspection

The inspection was undertaken by a team of 6 compliance inspectors including a specialist advisor (health visitor). We visited a health visitor team and district nurse team in each of the 3 Islington localities (North, Central and South), 2 district nurse assessment teams and 2 health visitor clinics at children�s centres. Overall we spoke with 35 parents, 20 district nurse patients or their carers, and 40 staff members.

People using the services provided very positive feedback about staff support at new birth visits, breast feeding support, local clinics, and during district nurse visits. They were satisfied with local information provided to them, and opportunities to make choices about their support and treatment. The Trust were working on improving performance with regard to meeting new birth visit targets and targets for setting up children�s two year reviews. There was also room for improvement with regard to district nurse communication with some patients about their visit days and times.

Effective multidisciplinary partnerships had been developed amongst staff in both services, and there were clear infection control and safeguarding procedures in place to protect people using the services. Measures had been put in place to recruit more staff within both teams, as long term vacancies and agency staff use were impacting on team performance and continuity of care for patients.

Staff spoke highly of the local management support and training available to them, however there was room for improvement in provision of clinical supervision to health visitors, and supervision and team meetings in the district nurses teams to ensure that they worked in line with best practice.

Quality assurance systems were in place for both services, however there were no recent surveys of people using the services, and there was variable awareness amongst staff in local teams of their performance against targets. The Trust was working towards introducing new feedback mechanisms to gather people�s views about the services.

Inspection carried out on 3 June 2013

During an inspection looking at part of the service

Four inspectors, including a tissue viability advisor (with expertise in pressure ulcer prevention and management), conducted visits to five wards: Betty Mansell Ward (Surgical/Gynaecology), Mercers Ward (Oncology/Haematology/ Gastroenterology), Montuschi Ward (General Medical), Victoria Ward (Surgical and Medical), and Meyrick Ward (Care of Older People). We conducted observations on the wards, spoke to 15 patients or relatives, 17 staff members and looked at 16 patient records.

People we spoke with who used the services at the Whittington Hospital told us that they received a good level of care, treatment and support. Comments included �They are absolutely superb,� �They talk to you,� �They work hard,� �They are supportive,� and �You don�t even need to press the call bell, they are here all the time.�

We found that significant improvements had been made in the care of older people with general medical needs on other specialist wards, to ensure that their needs were met and they were protected from the risk of unsafe care.

Inspection carried out on 29 January 2013

During a routine inspection

Nine inspectors, including a dementia advisor conducted visits to eleven wards/departments: Cavell Ward (Stroke Rehabilitation), Cloudesley and Meyrick Wards (Care of Older People), Cearns and Cellier Wards (Maternity), Mercers Ward (Oncology/Haematology/ Gastroenterology), Betty Mansell Ward (Surgical/Gynaecology), Mary Seacole North and South Wards (Short Stay Medical Assessment Units), Emergency Department and a number of Outpatients Department. We conducted observations on the wards, spoke to 60 patients or relatives, 40 staff members and looked at 20 patient records. Following the inspection we requested information from the Patient Advice and Liaison Services Department and the Trust�s Clinical Governance Team.

Most people we spoke to who used the services at the Whittington Hospital told us that they received a good level of care, treatment and support, and some were very proud of their local hospital. People were generally very complimentary about the staff and said that they explained and answered questions about their care and treatment. Very few people we spoke with had complaints about the service they had received. Our observations of care and discussions with patients and staff identified some areas for improvement in some services provided. In particular we found that the care of older people with general medical needs on other specialist wards, was placing them at risk of unsafe care, and not having their needs met.

Inspection carried out on 26 June 2012

During a routine inspection

The inspection was undertaken by two compliance inspectors commencing on 29th May 2012. It included visits to the Child Development Centre at St Ann�s Hospital, the Paediatric Assessment Unit at North Middlesex Hospital, the Children in Care team at Bounds Green Health Centre, Health Visitors at Tynemouth Road Health Centre, and Clinical Governance at the Whittington Hospital, as well as attending the Integrated Additional Support Network Panel. We provided a feedback session to the Trust on 26th June 2012.

Overall we spoke with over 20 parents or young people, and over 30 staff members including a range of therapists, receptionists, doctors, nurses and health visitors. We also spoke with an additional six allied professionals who we encountered during our visits, and looked at eighteen patients� records.

Parents and young people spoken to gave us very positive feedback about services. Comments included �I like coming here,� �everyone�s been very pleasant,� and �It�s perfect.� People told us that there was �good communication,� between health professionals. They were particularly appreciative of flexible appointments, as one person noted �they talk to each other and fix appointments on the same day.�

People said that they were told what to expect, and were listened to during appointments and given enough time. However some recent problems were described with interpreter services, which were being addressed by management.

Some people described difficulties getting referrals, or long waits for services, particularly for some doctors� clinics, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. There were also significant backlogs for children in care waiting for initial and review health assessments, and for pre-adoption medicals, and for Health Visitors to conduct visits to new born babies. It was understood that these shortfalls related to high levels of safeguarding work undertaken within the local authority. The Trust�s management were aware of the areas requiring attention, and had put action plans in place to address long waiting times, including recruitment of additional staff.

People found the location of the Child Development Centre (CDC) convenient, however concerns were raised about its state of repair. There was far greater satisfaction with facilities at Bounds Green and Tynemouth Road Health Centres. Staff advised that the CDC was due to be relocated. It was hoped that the move would be to a purpose built facility including staff from education and social services, in order to provide children in Haringey with a high standard of joined up support.

People spoke highly of the support provided to them by staff of all disciplines. Comments included �the doctor spoke to us very nicely,� �people were very polite and professional,� and �I like the staff � they are approachable, interactive and understanding.� However some people were concerned that they were seeing different people on each occasion, indicating that there was a lack of continuity of staff. Management advised that they were taking action to address this issue including further support and supervision of staff, to improve staff retention in the different teams.

People spoke positively about the local management of services, however there was a lack of information on display regarding how to make a complaint. Where complaints had been made, or incidents had occurred, these were addressed appropriately. Whilst local audits were being undertaken of services provided, the Trust were aware of the need to provide more centralised quality assurance systems in order to monitor the quality of services for children in Haringey.

Inspection carried out on 20 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 no treatment for the termination of pregnancy was commenced unless two certificated opinions from doctors had been obtained.

Inspection carried out on 16 January 2012

During a routine inspection

This respite service is due to be closed once alternative provision can be found for respite care for the current client group. The service has started to provide outreach work to support people with complex health needs in the community. This is part of the development of a new nurse led service for people who have complex health needs, which will be fully implemented when the current respite service closes.

We spoke to or spent time with three people staying at the service. People indicated that they felt comfortable at the unit, although they only stayed there for short stays. They were given choices about their day to day lives, and had formed good and supportive relationships with staff and management.

People had access to healthcare professionals when needed, and received appropriate support with their physical needs. Their privacy and dignity was respected and they were supported to undertake some activities outside of the unit.

Some improvements are needed with regard to records kept at the unit including activity records and staff supervision records, in the interests of people receiving support from the service.

Inspection carried out on 20 October 2011

During a routine inspection

Over 20th and 21st October 2011, 10 inspectors, including a pharmacy inspector, conducted visits to 18 wards/departments:

Cearns, Murray, Labour and Cellier Wards (Maternity), Thorogood Ward (Elective Orthopaedic), Cloudesley Ward (Care of Older People/Stroke Rehabilitation), Coyle Ward (Surgical Trauma/Orthopaedic), Nightingale Ward (Respiratory Medicine), Mercers Ward (Oncology/Haematology/Gastroenterology), Mary Seacole and Mary Seacole South Wards (Short Stay Medical Assessment Units), Cavell Ward (Care of Older People), Critical Care Unit (Intensive Care), Emergency Department, Pharmacy Discharge Lounge, Outpatients, Neonatal Intensive Care and the Patient Advice and Liaison Services Department. We conducted observations on the wards, spoke to approximately 70 patients or relatives, 45 staff members and and looked at approximately 20 patient records.

Most people we spoke to who used the services at the Whittington Hospital told us that they received a good level of care, treatment and support, and some were very proud of their local hospital. People were generally very complimentary about the staff and said that they explained and answered questions about their care and treatment. Very few people we spoke to had complaints about the service they had received, however few people were aware of the complaints procedures for the Trust.

Our observations of care and discussions with patients and staff identified some areas for improvement in some services provided, in order to ensure that the Trust remains compliant with the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Inspection carried out on 7 April 2011

During a themed inspection looking at Dignity and Nutrition

Patients and visitors were positive about the Whittington Hospital and praised the vast majority of staff as caring and hard working. Patients told us that staff treated those more dependent than themselves with kindness, for example when helping them to eat. People generally felt that they had been given enough information but medication was sometimes an area where people wanted to know more. They said that they and their families had been involved in decisions and they had received helpful support from professionals. One person noted �they always tell me who cares for me � they talk to me and tell the doctor things I want to ask.� Another advised �anything you ask � they do � I don�t want to go home!� However some patients said that they had to wait a long time for call bells to be answered, particularly at night, and several patients did not have enough information about the facilities available on the ward.

Most of the people we spoke to said there was a choice of meals and were satisfied with the food. One person noted �I�m asked if I want large or small portions, and given quite a few drinks, and encouraged to drink them.� However some people did not find the hot meals appetising and were not always offered alternatives by staff on the ward. Some people felt that their cultural preferences were not sufficiently catered for. People advised that they were weighed regularly and some people had their fluid and food intake monitored. None of the other patients we interviewed had missed a meal.