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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Care Quality Commission reports published today focussing on children's and surgery services at North Cumbria's hospitals

Care Quality Commission reports published today focussing on children's and surgery services at North Cumbria's hospitals

Posted on Tuesday 29th November 2016
Care Quality Commission reports published today focussing on children's and surgery services at North Cumbria's hospitals

Reports have been published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) today (Friday 25 November), following an unannounced inspection of Surgery and Children and Young People’s services at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The CQC is the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England. The inspection, which took place in September 2016, looked at how safe and well-led the two services are at both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

Following the Trust’s 2015 full inspection, concerns were raised about the shortages in medical staffing, particularly at consultant level, in Children’s services. The Trust shared the concerns of the CQC and has been working as part of the Success Regime over the past year to ensure that Children’s services can be improved and sustained, as well as keeping up with the changes being seen nationally in how childhood illness is treated. 

During September’s visit, the CQC found that West Cumberland Hospital continues to be heavily supported by locum appointments in senior positions despite the efforts being taken to recruit to vacancies. Whilst they found that the Cumberland Infirmary had more substantive consultants, it was recognised that the consultants were working in excess of their job plans therefore the service is relying upon goodwill. Overall, the report notes that the Children’s units at both sites do not meet all of the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health (RCPCH) – Facing the Future: Standards for Acute General Paediatric Services (2015).

In the current public consultation, The Future of Healthcare in West, North & East Cumbria, the options for change are set out to specifically address the challenges in recruiting permanent medical staff and meeting national standards which the Trust is required to meet. The preferred option (option 1) involves the delivery of an inpatient paediatric unit at the Cumberland Infirmary and a short stay paediatric assessment unit at West Cumberland Hospital. There would also be some overnight beds in Whitehaven for children with less acute, low risk illnesses but children who needed more acute inpatient admission would be transferred to Carlisle.

Stephen Eames, chief executive at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We welcome the reports we have received from the Care Quality Commission as they absolutely recognise the challenges we have in recruiting substantive medical staff and the fact that we are taking action to tackle this issue. We hope that, through the options we have presented in the public consultation, we can ease the workforce pressures and therefore improve both safety and outcomes for our patients.

“I am also pleased to note that, despite the challenges, our Children’s services were praised by the CQC for maintaining good safeguarding procedures, providing good local processes to monitor any changes in a child’s condition and for their ‘team culture’. Robust arrangements with the neonatal network were also noted which is thanks to our strong partnership with colleagues in Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“All of the positives noted in the report show that if we can solve the medical staffing fragilities through new ways of working, we can offer a truly excellent service to children and young people in West, North & East Cumbria, which is clinically sustainable for the future.”

Surgical services were also inspected in September when it was noted that there have been no Never Events in the six months prior to the inspection. The CQC also state that ‘previous Never Events have been fully investigated and changes to practice have been made where appropriate’. Good processes and practices were found to be in place to protect patients and maintain safety with staff understanding the process for reporting and investigating incidents.

The service was found to have strong leadership and managers were ‘visible’ and ‘hands on’. Since the occurrence of Never Events last year, the team has worked hard to implement a Perioperative Improvement Plan which is currently being implemented with the teams in Surgery. The plan focuses on all staff developing the following together:

  • Operational excellence
  • Good governance
  • Local safety standards
  • Audit & improvement
  • A positive safety & learning culture

Commenting on Surgery services, Stephen Eames said: “There is some real recognition in the report of the efforts that have gone into improving safety in surgery and preventing incidents from occurring which is a real testament to the team.

“Clearly there are still some areas to focus on such as staffing levels and staff morale which are key priorities for the Trust but overall the report is recognition of the hard work the Surgery team have put into improving their service.”