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The Chief Inspector of Hospitals has used CQC's urgent enforcement powers to protect people using radiology services at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

24 November 2016
Worcestershire Royal Hospital
  • Media

The CQC has told Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to make urgent improvements to the quality of the healthcare provided to patients who use its’ radiology services.

An inspection was carried out at the service on 27 July 2016 in response to information of concern around the length of time being taken to report on routine and urgent plain film x-ray examinations and the governance processes in place to manage these backlogs. There were additional concerns relating to staffing within the department.

The CQC has taken enforcement action against the trust as a result of the findings from this inspection. This enforcement action means the trust must take urgent action to deal with the significant number of unreported images to ensure that patients are protected from the risk of harm.

There was a significant backlog in the reporting of plain film x-rays dating back to 2013. The length of time for the reporting of diagnostic imaging tests had been on the trust risk register since 2003 and inspectors found no evidence of a review of the situation or any clear actions to reduce the backlog.

The trust has sent the CQC a weekly report that shows the action taken in response and future actions planned. This week, inspectors are in the trust undertaking a comprehensive inspection which will include an assessment of the progress the trust has made.

The Chief Inspectors of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

"At the time we inspected, we were concerned that patients using Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s radiology services were experiencing a poor level of care and treatment.

"The board had no oversight or knowledge of the backlog meaning we were not assured that there were suitable governance and escalation processes in place to protect patients from potential harm.

“There were not robust procedures in place to trigger the escalation of risk caused by these lengthy delays in reporting. Lessons were not being learnt from incidents and safety goals had not been set.

"The trust has submitted information to the CQC to demonstrate the progress made in clearing the backlog and improvements to governance and this will be monitored when we inspect this month. We will then decide whether or not it is appropriate to remove the conditions placed on the services at Worcestershire Royal Hospital."

CQC has told the trust that it must make a number of improvements including:

  • The trust must take appropriate steps to resolve the backlog of radiology reporting.
  • This must include a clinical review and prioritisation of the current backlog of unreported images (including those taken before January 2016); assess impact of harm to patients, and apply Duty of Candour to any patient adversely affected.
  • The trust must ensure that they have robust processes to ensure any images taken are reported and risk assessed in line with trust policy


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was rated inadequate overall at our last inspection in 2015. The outpatients and diagnostic imaging departments were rated requires improvement for all three sites, with leadership at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre rated as inadequate. A comprehensive inspection of all services across three sites is being carried out this month.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust provides radiology services at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, and Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre. The service is managed by one management team based at Worcestershire Royal Hospital where Information technology systems (IT) that support the radiology services across all three sites are also based.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public. Whenever CQC inspects it will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led?

Providers a required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.