CQC report raises “serious concerns” at Whipps Cross Hospital

Whipps Cross Hospital is scanning patients with “ageing equipment [that does] not always work”, according to a recent inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced on July 30 that the hospital’s diagnostic imaging service, responsible for X-rays, ultrasounds and other scans, was “inadequate”.

Inspectors visiting the Leytonstone hospital in May found equipment issues “delayed patient care” and that a programme to replace old equipment had not fixed the problem, as some new purchases were unusable.

Nicola Wise, head of hospital inspection, said the CQC had “several serious concerns” about what it found, including reports from staff that they were scared to raise issues.

She said: “We found that ageing equipment did not always work, resulting in a delay to patient care.

“In some cases, new equipment had been purchased but could not be used, as it had not been integrated into the software systems.

“We [also] found rooms containing specialist equipment were not always locked, posing a risk to staff, patients and visitors.”

The inspection team reported that the hospital’s radiographers “did not always have time, or permission, to keep up-to-date records of systems that were indicating faults”.

They were also “deeply concerned” by staff reporting they were afraid to raise concerns in case they were “treated unfavourably” by managers – and that they felt some allegations of “bullying, harassment, racism and sexism… had not been resolved”.

Wise added: “We told the trust that it must ensure that the governance and risk management structures for completing and monitoring risk assessments are improved and that it must manage the staff rota more effectively.

“I am pleased to report that the trust has already taken urgent steps to address our concerns. We will keep a close eye on the situation and return to inspect to ensure that improvements are made and fully embedded.”

Responding to the report, the group chief executive of the hospital’s trust, Barts Health, said it is “accelerating… efforts to make lasting change happen more quickly”.

Group chief executive Dame Alwen Williams DBE also said it was “concerning to hear that some staff have had experience of bullying, harassment and sexism”, calling this “unacceptable”.

She said: “We have a responsibility to listen to what our hard-working team is saying, and respond appropriately and sensitively.

“We will be ensuring staff have the resources to sustain improvements we need to make.

“We are committed to eliminating discrimination, ensuring equality of opportunity and promoting good relations between all people [and] are continuing to investigate every complaint made.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter