Failures in NHS standards exposed by watchdog

 
Newborn baby Maternity wards were highlighted as an area of concern

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More than a quarter of NHS and social care services in England are failing to meet all the essential standards they should, the regulator says.

The Care Quality Commission inspected 14,000 sites, including hospitals, care homes and dental practices.

Among the common themes identified were staff shortages and poor management of medicines.

Maternity care as a whole was flagged up as units were struggling to keep pace with the rising birth rate.

The 14,000 inspections covered more than a third of the services the CQC has responsibility for.

Where problems were identified, managers were told to draw up action plans to improve performance. But in 130 cases the performance was so bad that the inspectors demanded urgent action be taken. In some cases this resulted in restrictions being placed on the service.

For example, a nursing home was barred from admitting new residents because of concerns over the way drugs were handed out.

The review - dubbed a market report by the CQC - is the first time data on the inspections has been published in this way.

Case Studies

Staff shortages were identified within the district nursing service run by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust. The team was only just able to respond to urgent requests for visits and the frequent moving around of staff to cover sickness and leave meant continuity of care suffered.

Inspectors identified problems with record keeping at Retreat, an independent hospital that cares for people detained under the Mental Health Act. Paper records were said to be chaotic, while inconsistencies were found when the computer and paper records were compared. It meant staff were not always able to identify the needs of patients.

At Hugh Myddelton House, a nursing home in north London run by Barchester Homes, problems with medicine record-keeping meant people were missing out on drugs. At one point supplies of some drug supplies, including pain relief, ran out for five days. Another person at risk of a stroke did not receive vital medication for two weeks because of confusion over their care. New admissions were suspended as a result.

Maternity care at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield was found to suffer from staff shortages, particularly during the night. It meant that some women went for long periods without being seen. Inspectors noted one incident where a woman was given antibiotics late.

It comes after criticism that the CQC had become too focused on bureaucracy to the detriment of inspecting.

In total, 27% of locations inspected failed to meet all the 16 standards covering health and care.

The report highlighted:

  • Some 22% of the 581 NHS sites were failing to meet all the requirements. Inspectors said care was being compromised by a lack of qualified staff in many places.
  • More than 850 independent healthcare providers were looked at, with 18% deemed not to be meeting all the standards. Record keeping was a common problem.
  • In social care, 28% of nearly 12,000 care homes and home care services were judged to be not up to scratch. Some of the buildings were in poor condition, while staff across the sector were said to be struggling to cope with the increasingly complex medicine regimes people were on.
  • Dental practices performed much better, with only 12% of sites not meeting all the standards. Cleanliness was highlighted as an issue.

CQC deputy chief executive Jill Finney said the report had provided a "snapshot" of performance, and the regulator would now probe more deeply into what was causing the problems.

She said similar reports would be provided every three months.

And she added: "We want providers to look closely at this report in order to assure themselves that they are taking all steps necessary to protect people from poor care."

Health minister Simon Burns said: "There is no excuse for delivering anything but the best care. By exposing poor practice and shining a light on best practice we are determined to drive up standards for everyone."

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: "Many of these areas, in particular on matters like staffing, are heard on our helpline day after day and clearly need to be addressed not just by the trusts locally, but also by the Department of Health and the government at a national level."

And NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: "It is important to note that the number of organisations deemed to be falling short so seriously that the most drastic action was required is small.

"However, this is another salutary reminder that the NHS must not drop the ball on caring for patients as it faces significant financial and organisational pressures."

 

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  • rate this
    -21

    Comment number 103.

    One simple solution is higher rate tax payers (40% ) are excluded from NHS and have to pay for their own private care. They can afford it. I would also exclude them from State schools as well as they can afford private schools. Then we could have the best NHS and state schools in the world.

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 89.

    We need private competitive healthcare system. NHS is only good for people who use it as an Ambulance taxi, and A&E pub on Friday, Saturday nights. Shut it down. Soilders who wounded in Afghanistan should be given chance to receive treatment in abroad to save their lives. NHS with three words; bad, bad, bad. You can not provide good service for free.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 341.

    The USA has healthcare right.

    ER deals with pressing cases. If you want aftercare, you pay for it. Competition drives down prices, and improves standards.

    Companies pay for insurance, so people who work are protected - Don't work? Don't expect the taxpayer to foot the bill.

    The sooner the NHS is privatised, the better.

    This'll break records for negative ratings, but the truth hurts.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 86.

    We are envied across the world for our 'free' health care system but the system is at breaking point and maybe needs a radical rethink.
    Get rid of paying National Insurance, privatise all hospitals and take out health insurance. At least that way we won't be handing out free health care to all who visit our country and services may even improve. The US seem to have it right.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 64.

    Ah, so the rising birth rate is whats causing strain on the NHS, not smokers, drinkers or obese people, but people fornicating, lol, love it :)

 

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