One Year On, Still in Special Measures

10th July 2014

The Care Quality Commission has today published its report into North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust.

The CQC concluded that even though some progress has been made and that care is improving, NCUHT should remain in special measures given that improvements are needed.  At West Cumberland Hospital, the CQC rated ‘Critical Care’ and ‘End of Life Care’ as good, but all other indicators requires improvement.

The principal reason for which the Trust remains in special measures is a shortage of medical staff.

The CQC report states: “Care and treatment was delivered by committed and caring staff who worked hard to provide patients with good services. However, there were numerous consultant vacancies that were adversely affecting timely treatment for patients and effective support for junior doctors in a number of core services.  Nurse staffing levels, although improved, remained of concern and there was a heavy reliance on staff covering extra shifts, and bank and agency staff to maintain adequate staffing levels.  Adequate staffing levels were not consistently achieved in all core services.”

Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed said:

“The doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to provide us with our local hospital services must be commended for the progress made so far. In the face of government neglect, they hold our local services together.  However, this report further enforces what we have known for a long time: they are working with their hands tied behind their back.

“When the Trust was put into special measures following the Keogh Report, staffing levels were highlighted as a major concern and here we are, almost a full year later and little progress has been made.

The findings of the report will surprise nobody. They come only weeks after I again wrote to the Health Secretary, NHS England and the CQC highlighting the acute staff shortage in our area. I have yet to receive any replies to the concerns I have raised.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that the staff at the West Cumberland Hospital are holding our services together in the face of a calamitous, damaging reorganisation of the NHS by the government that saw £3.5 billion taken out of front line care and spent on a back-office reorganisation. This caused chaos and it deeply damaged services.

“The report verifies everything raised by Bruce Keogh during his inspection. Yet, one year on, the government hasn’t provided any meaningful assistance and the Trust has had difficulty paying its electricity bills.

“Our hospital is capable of providing excellent care – as Professor Keogh points out – and failing services should not be confused with a government charter with which to cut services. Where services are failing, improve them, fix them; don’t cut them.

“Our Trust needs more political attention, it needs more support, not less and I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that our community, our hospital and our excellent hospital staff receive this support.”

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