Liverpool Community Heath NHS trust 'had oppressive culture'
An "oppressive" culture at an NHS trust led to poor services, bullying of staff and may even have contributed to some deaths, a report has found.
The review highlighted "failures at multiple levels" at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust since 2011.
One man who was suffering from lung cancer was not diagnosed for four months, it revealed.
The trust said it was "sorry that these issues went unchecked... for so long" but it was now making improvements.
Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said: "We can confirm that we are investigating a number of individuals from Liverpool Community NHS Trust on allegations of misconduct."
Worker taken 'hostage'
The trust delivers community health services to about 750,000 people in Liverpool and Sefton, either in their homes or at health centres.
The review, conducted by the law firm Capsticks at the request of the trust, found cost-cutting efforts led to "a culture of bullying and harassment of staff" and pressures on front line services.
It said the trust also failed to fully investigate an attack on a health worker taken "hostage" and seriously assaulted by a patient's relative in 2013.
Other findings included:
- Board's failure to "analyse properly the worrying comments of its own staff"
- Board's failure to properly oversee the trust's in-patient services, which led to the serving of two warning notices from the Care Quality Commission in January 2014
- "A lack of clear management and leadership" on its health services for offenders, including a failure to "properly understand deaths in custody and the factors that contributed in part to those deaths"
Sue Page, chief executive at the trust since April 2014, said: "Two years ago, as we talked to staff, it was quite clear there were a lot of things that were clearly very wrong.
"Some of the staff were incredibly hurt by this and all I can say is a really big sorry on behalf of the NHS.
"They didn't deserve it, it wasn't their fault.
"We gave Capsticks complete independence and the staff feel it is an unbiased, independent report.
"A lot more has to be done. The report says we are only just turning a corner."
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has called for a public inquiry into the trust.
She added: "This wasn't just a poor quality job. We are talking about people who lacked basic humanity and appear to have fiddled the records to protect themselves."
Carole Panteli, the trust's interim director of nursing, said a new leadership team was appointed in 2014 and was making improvements.
But, the report recommended the trust "quicken the pace of change".