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CQC rates Medway NHS Foundation Trust as Inadequate and recommends trust remains in special measures

7 January 2016
  • Media

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended that Medway NHS Foundation Trust should remain in special measures following its latest inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors found the trust still needed to make significant improvements to ensure it was consistently delivering care which was safe, effective, caring, and responsive to people’s needs. Overall the trust has been rated as Inadequate. At the time of the inspection in August and September the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards raised his immediate concerns about standards of patient safety in the accident and emergency department with the trust, NHS England and local commissioners.

CQC found that at the busiest times, the Emergency Department was not able to cope with the numbers of patients attending. People in need of treatment were waiting too long to see a doctor, or were being left unattended while they waited.

Following that intervention, the trust and commissioners took action to ensure that there were more staff on duty and patient flow throughout the Emergency department was more effective.

The latest report also highlights continuing concerns with medical care, surgery and outpatient and diagnostic services which were also rated Inadequate. Full reports and ratings for all core services are available on this website.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said:

“Since September we have made sure that we have been kept fully aware of all action taken by local clinical commissioning groups, local authorities and NHS England to ensure that the trust’s urgent and emergency services can deliver safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care, and we are continuing to work closely with all agencies.

“While those immediate safety matters have been dealt with for the time being, I am not satisfied that the underlying issues throughout the trust have been resolved. It is disappointing to report that performance may even have deteriorated in some areas, despite the support which has been offered to the trust up until now.

“Once again we have rated Medway NHS Foundation Trust as Inadequate for safety, responsiveness and being well-led. This is extremely concerning, both in terms of the quality of care that people can expect from the trust, and for what it says about the trust’s ability to improve.

“It is our shared view with Monitor that this situation must not be allowed to continue. It is clear that the trust cannot solve these important issues on its own, and will require continued support for the foreseeable future.

“We are now considering, along with partner agencies, the best option available in order to improve services rapidly for the local population. In these circumstances, it would be inappropriate to recommend that the trust leave special measures.”

The trust had originally been placed into special measures by Sir Bruce Keogh in July 2013 because of concerns about mortality rates and standards of care.

After further inspections by CQC in 2014, the chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, recommended that the trust should remain in special measures.

During the latest inspection, inspectors found that although there had been some improvement since 2014, staffing levels across the hospital were still found to be too low to meet people's needs. The trust remained heavily reliant on the good will of staff to undertake extra shifts and temporary agency and bank staff to ease the pressures.

On the medical wards, clinical areas were not clean and hygienic and some needed refurbishment. Not all staff were completing their mandatory training and there were shortfalls in nurse staffing levels. Patients were frequently treated in mixed-sex wards, or were not discharged when they were ready to leave hospital.

Inspectors were concerned at how the trust managed and responded to incidents. Not all staff had access to the system for reporting incidents. There was no evidence to suggest that lessons had been learned following a never event.

The trust was consistently not meeting their two-week targets for patients suspected with cancer and there were delays in patients getting scans, which meant they had to wait too long for treatment.

At board level, inspectors questioned the ability of the board to drive the level of improvement required or to hold the leadership to account, especially in relation to concerns about quality, safety and specifically the longstanding poor mortality rates. The vision and values of the organisation were not well developed or understood by staff and some staff, including members of the executive team, reported feeling bullied.

Inspectors found that despite the overall findings, across the trust the staff provided compassionate care in almost all their interactions with people in their care. Patients spoke positively about the staff and said that they considered that their privacy and dignity had been maintained in most cases.

CQC has told the trust it must make improvements in 31 areas, including:

  • Patient flow must be improved. This must be achieved without impacting other services provided within the departments and have a risk balanced approach so as not to impede on other services delivered.
  • The environment within the emergency department must be reviewed to meet patient demand effectively.
  • The trust must ensure that patients leaving the critical care unit are discharged within four hours to improve the access and flow of patients.
  • The two week cancer pathways for each speciality must be reviewed, with clinical oversight of those patients waiting in order to lessen the risks to those patients.
  • The quality of the senior leadership must be reviewed to ensure efficient, supportive and quality leadership.
  • The trust must manage allegations of bullying and whistleblowing, and performance management in line with agreed policies.

The Care Quality Commission will present its findings to a local Quality Summit, including NHS commissioners, providers, regulators and other public bodies. The purpose of the Quality Summit is to develop a plan of action and recommendations based on the inspection team’s findings.


For further information, please contact John Scott, Regional Engagement Manager on 07789 875809. Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here. (Please note: the press office is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters. For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.)

Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

Full reports including ratings of all core services of Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Further information about the special measures regime for NHS trusts

​​The 15 trusts that are currently in special measures are:

  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Colchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wye Valley NHS Trust
  • Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust
  • Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (mental health trust)
  • Barts Health NHS Trust
  • West Hertfordshire NHS Trust
  • East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Cambridge University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (subject to TDA’s decision)
  • London Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  • North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust​​​​

The 11 trusts which have been taken out of special measures are:

  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • East Lancashire NHS Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
  • Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals (now dissolved, but part of Frimley Health)
  • North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (subject to Monitor’s decision)

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?

Since 1 April, providers have been required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. Further information on the requirement for providers to prominently display their CQC ratings.

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.