The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has revealed that safety standards in England’s hospitals are shocking.
They stated that they had found frontline staff to be caring, but too many of the hospitals were being poorly led and failing to keep patients safe.
These results are based on one year’s inspections during which half of the NHS hospitals in England and a number of GP surgeries and care homes, were rated.
Out of the 82 hospitals that were rated, only 29 received a ‘good’ overall rating, 48 required improvement and five were classified as being ‘inadequate’.
This sample of hospitals will not reflect the overall care offered by the NHS, as the ones where there were existing concerns were inspected first. However, the huge divide between the best and the worst hospitals, along with the overall poor performance on issues such as hospital management and patient safety have caused huge concern among the inspectors.
The chief executive of the CQC, David Behan, said his organisation would no longer accept inadequate care. He said when the inspections reveal poor care, the providers have to improve as they should learn from the outstanding care that the organisation is attempting to introduce.
Frontline staff at almost all the hospitals were praised for being caring toward patients, with only one hospital was said to be good or outstanding in this category.
As far as patient safety was concerned, 80% of hospitals required improvement. Eight were deemed to be inadequate. Two out of three hospitals required improvement in management or were rated inadequate.
A CQC source said the services that were of most concern included care of the elderly and A&E departments.
The problems experienced with discharging elderly patients because there are no beds available in residential or care homes, or because there was no effective care available in the community, resulted in these patients having to remain in hospital too long, which results in queues outside the A&E doors.
The cuts in budgets for social care services over the past few years have also resulted in a huge variation in the quality of care. Inspectors found that 20% of nursing homes had insufficient staff on duty to ensure that residents were receiving good, safe care.
Mr. Behan revealed that although there were financial pressures placed on social care and hospitals, inspectors had found several examples where good or outstanding care was offered in those institutions that were financially-challenged.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said the report highlights examples where excellent care is given, but it also exposes those where the levels of care are inadequate. He said this was the reason why the CQC is an independent body and why the underperformance in the NHS is being confronted in an aggressive manner.
Image Credit: CMRF Crumlin