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Provider: London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust Requires improvement

We are carrying out checks on locations registered by this provider. We will publish the reports when our checks are complete.


Inspection carried out on 02 July to 15 August 2019

During a routine inspection

Our rating of the trust stayed the same. We rated it as requires improvement because:

  • We rated safe, effective, responsive and well led as requires improvement and caring as good.
  • We rated well-led at the trust level as requires improvement.
  • Our decisions on overall ratings take into account, for example, the relative size of services and we use our professional judgement to reach a fair and balanced rating.

CQC inspections of services

Service reports published 31 August 2018
Inspection carried out on 5th June to 7th June 2018 During an inspection of Community dental services Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
Inspection carried out on 5th June to 7th June 2018 During an inspection of Community health inpatient services Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
Service reports published 21 June 2016
Inspection carried out on 19 - 23 October 2015; unannounced inspections between 3 - 7 November 2015 During an inspection of Community health services for adults Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
Inspection carried out on 19/10/2015 During an inspection of End of life care Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
Inspection carried out on 19/10/2016 During an inspection of Community health services for children, young people and families Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
Inspection carried out on 19 - 23 October 2015; unannounced inspections between 3 - 7 November 2015 During an inspection of Community health inpatient services Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
Inspection carried out on 19 - 23 October 2015; unannounced inspections between 3 - 7 November 2015 During an inspection of Community dental services Download report PDF (opens in a new tab)
See more service reports published 21 June 2016
Inspection carried out on 5th June to 7th June 2018

During a routine inspection

Our rating of the trust stayed the same. We rated it as requires improvement because:

  • We rated safe, effective, caring and well-led as requires improvement, and caring as good. We rated three of the trust’s services as requires improvement, one service as good and two of the services as inadequate. In rating the trust, we took into account the current ratings of the other services not inspected this time.
  • We rated well-led at the trust as requires improvement.

Inspection carried out on 19 - 23 October 2015; unnanounced visits 3 - 7 November 2015

During a routine inspection

London North West Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the largest integrated care trusts in the country, bringing together hospital and community services across Brent, Ealing and Harrow. Established on 1 October 2014 from the merger of North West London NHS Trust and Ealing Hospitals NHS Trust, and employing more than 8,000 staff it serves a diverse population of approximately 850,000.

The trust runs Northwick Park Hospital, St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow; Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal and Ealing Hospital in Southall. It also runs 4 community hospitals – Clayponds Rehabilitation Hospital, Meadow House Hospital, Denham unit and Willesden Centre - in addition to providing community health services in the London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Harrow.

At the end of the financial year 2014-15 the trust had a deficit of £55.9 million.

We carried out this inspection as part of our comprehensive acute hospital inspection programme for combined acute hospital and community health based trusts. We inspected Northwick Park Hospital, Ealing Hospital and the following community health services: community services for adults; community services for children, young people and families; community inpatient services; community services for end of life care and community dental services.

The announced part of the inspection took place between 19-23 October 2015 and there were further unannounced inspections which took place between 3-7 November 2015.

Overall we rated this trust as requires improvement. We rated acute end of life services as good. We rated the following acute services provided by the trust as requires improvement: Urgent and emergency care, medical care including care of the elderly, surgery, critical care, maternity and gynaecology, acute services for children and outpatients and diagnostic imaging.

We rated the following community services as good: services for children, young people and families, services for adults, and end of life care. We rated the following community services as requires improvement: community inpatient services and community dental services.

We rated caring at the trust as good, but safety, effective, responsive and well-led as requires improvement.

Our key findings were as follows:

  •     The merger of the trust had been protracted and subject to delay. This had had a negative effect on performance and leadership.
  • We saw overall disappointing progress in merging systems and processes at the trust. To most intents and purposes Ealing and Northwick Park appeared to be operating as separate entities and community health services appeared disengaged from the rest of the trust.
  • There appeared to be substantial duplication of support functions at both main sites. There appeared to have been lack of control over spend of administrative, non-staff, and nursing staffing budgets with little rationale over nursing numbers on wards.
  • A new chief executive had recently been appointed earlier in 2015. She was in the process of building a new executive team and by the time of our inspection only one member of the previous substantive executive team was in post. This meant that the new executive team were in the process of getting to grips with their respective functions.
  • All staff working at the hospital were dedicated, caring and supportive of each other within their ward and locality. There was a high degree of anxiety and uncertainty borne out of the merger and also fears of service removal and potential job losses particularly at Ealing Hospital.

    • There appeared to be a lack of firm information provided to staff about the effects of Shaping a Healthier Future - to reconfigure services in north west London - despite the chief executive holding regular briefing session. This added to staff anxieties.

  • We saw several areas of good practice or progress including:

  •     a newly opened emergency department at Northwick Park

  • a good service overall for end of life care particularly at Ealing and in the community health service.
  • a refurbished and child friendly ward for children's care called Jack's Place.
  • caring attitudes, dedication and good multi-disciplinary teamwork of clinical staff.
  • good partnership working between urgent and emergency care  staff and London Ambulance staff.
  • good induction training for junior doctors.
  • research projects into falls bundles, stroke trials and good cross site working in research.
  • Staff told us there were good opportunities for training and career development.
  • We found the specialist palliative care team (SPCT) to be passionate about ensuring patients and people close to them received safe, effective and good quality care in a timely manner.

  • The play specialists in services for children demonstrated how they could make a difference to the service and its environment in meeting the needs of the children and young people. This included an outstanding diversional therapy approach for children and young people, which was led by the play specialist and school tutor.

  • evidence of good antibiotic stewardship, particularly at Ealing pharmacy, with regular reviews of need; and the roll out of drug cabinets across certain parts of the trust with secure finger print access. 

  • patient satisfaction data collected by iPAD in one pharmacy location

  • an increase in pharmacy cover at one community unit (Denham) enabling  reduced medicines related risks.

  • The availability and input of dedicated psychologists as part of the multidisciplinary team at the Willesden Centre for Health and Care provided patients with improved long term outcomes.
  • The virtual ward operating in the Harrow community, with input from clinicians based at Northwick Park Hospital, supported patients who have long term chronic conditions to stay in their own homes and reduce hospital admissions.

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

  • There was limited sparse medical cover on eHDU out of hours and at weekends, which meant there was frequently no doctor immediately available on the unit. Consultants responsible for eHDU and Dryden HDU were not intensivists and processes for escalating surgical patients were unclear. Additionally, less than the recommended proportion of eHDU nurses had critical care qualifications.
  • There was a lack of expert support from consultant radiologists at weekends, which impacted on the accuracy of clinical diagnosis being achieved. Risks related to patient safety and service delivery had not always been identified and agreed timelines for resolution had not always been identified. This led to scans being reported by specialist registrars (SpR’s) and amended by consultants on Mondays. They reported an apparent 25% amendment rate, with missed pathologies.

  • Surgical staff were not always reporting incidents. Consultants and other surgical staff told us they did not routinely complete incident reports for issues or concerns as the forms were said to be “too laborious” and nothing was done to change the problems highlighted.
  • Access to services and patient flow through the ED at Northwick Park to wards in the hospital was poor and patients experienced long waits in the HDU and assessment unit areas.

  • The performance dashboards for ED showed that compliance with achieving the mandatory targets, including the 4 hour treatment target, had been poor over the previous 12 months.
  • The emergency department participated and performed poorly in the College of Emergency Medicine audits on pain relief, renal colic, fractured neck of femur and consultant sign-off; and there were no clear action plans drawn up by the department indicating what actions were taken as a result of the audits.
  • Compliance with safeguarding training was poor particularly among medical and dental staff.
  • The trust target was to have 95% of staff having completed mandatory training. Trust data, as of March 2014 – July 2015, showed compliance with the target was poor in many areas.
  • We saw examples of poor infection control practice such as linen left on a bin when a nurse was putting gloves on, staff wearing nose rings and hooped earrings that were not covered and name badges that were made of paper.
  • There was a poor environment on the stroke wards at Northwick Park Hospital.
  • There were poor handovers between ED and the wards at Northwick Park with MRSA screening and medicines management not always clear or complete in the handovers.
  • Nutrition and hydration was poorly managed on Northwick Park medical wards with poor assessments, choice of food and support for those that needed it.

  • In surgery, several groups of patients had no formally defined pathway, which impacted on their safety.
  • The National Bowel Cancer Audit for 2014 indicated that data completeness for patients having major surgery was poor at 30%, compared with an England average of 87%.
  • There was a lack of formal escalation process for surgical patients who deteriorated on eHDU aside from the support provided by the outreach team.
  • Handovers to the consultant taking over care of eHDU patients on a Monday morning was completed by the weekend on call anaesthetic registrar rather than a consultant to consultant handover. Staff highlighted this as a concern as there was a risk important information could be missed.

  • In maternity and gynaecology, there were safety concerns

     related to midwife shortages, not having safety thermometers on display and some staff reporting that they did not get feedback after reporting incidents. Staff raised concerns about one midwife covering the triage and observation areas at same time during times of pressure.

  • We were concerned that some of the risks we identified were not on the risk register, such as the room used for bereaved women on the delivery suite at Northwick Park Hospital with a lack of sound proofing from the ward.
  • Staff on wards outside of the end of life team had a poor understanding of end of life care and the trust LDLCA - Last days of life care agreement. Concern was raised that doctors and nurses on the wards did not recognise deteriorating and dying patients.
  • Signage for outpatient clinics was in some cases poor and or stopped short of providing clear directions for patients.
  • In outpatients and diagnostic imaging, poor patient experience was due to overbooking clinics, lack of capacity in outpatients and lack of availability of medical records in time for clinics.
  • In OPD, we were concerned incidents were not always appropriately recognised, escalated or investigated and lessons learned were not widely shared.

  • The pre-inspection information identified some concerns around consultant cover in haematology. Some of the facilities were not suitable to meet the needs of patients, for example, the haematology day care service.

  • At Ealing ED we had some concerns around the care and treatment of children. There were insufficient children’s nurses employed to ensure they were consistently available at all times. Not all adult-trained staff had been trained in paediatric life support.

  • There were some aspects of poor morale of staff on the medical wards at Ealing.

  • There were some concerns with cleanliness and the state of repair or servicing of equipment and fixtures on medical wards at Ealing.

  • Audits showed hand hygiene was a concern with some wards either not submitting audits or scoring less than 90%.

  • All types of therapy visits on wards were unscheduled meaning patients could miss their therapy if they were away from their bed or in pain.
  • We were concerned at the lack of provision for dementia care and inconsistent assessment of patients failing to direct them to a dementia friendly wards at Ealing. However, patients living with dementia were not specifically triaged to be admitted to this ward and some aspects of the ward were not dementia friendly.
  • In surgery at Ealing there was inadequate stock of some “bread and butter” items of equipment, such as endoscopic gastro-intestinal cartridges.Sets came back from the decontamination unit incomplete.
  • At Ealing OPD, the outpatients risk register identified five issues of concern including lack of capacity, temperature in the women’s clinic environment, lack of availability of complete medical records, overbooking clinics and absence of a dedicated plaster sink in the plaster room.
  • Trust wide there were temperature control issues across sites in rooms where medicines are stored.

  • The trust was not compliant with Fit and Proper Persons regulations requirements.
  • The above list is not exhaustive and the trust should address these and the rest of the issues outlined in our reports in its action plan.

Importantly, the trust must:

  • provide expert support from consultant radiologists at weekends.

  • ensure effective processes for reporting, investigating and learning from incidents, and ensure all staff always report incidents.

  • provide sufficient trained and experienced medical and nursing cover on eHDU at all times including out of hours and at weekends to ensure  immediate availability on the unit.

  • We issued the trust with a Section 29 (A) warning notice in relation to the three " must do" items listed immediately above requiring substantial improvements.

Professor Sir Mike Richards

Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Use of resources

These reports look at how NHS hospital trusts use resources, and give recommendations for improvement where needed. They are based on assessments carried out by NHS Improvement, alongside scheduled inspections led by CQC. We’re currently piloting how we work together to confirm the findings of these assessments and present the reports and ratings alongside our other inspection information. The Use of Resources reports include a ‘shadow’ (indicative) rating for the trust’s use of resources.

Intelligent Monitoring

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Together with local information from partners and the public, this monitoring helps us to decide when, where and what to inspect.