Robin Walker, Worcester’s MP,  has today responded to the sad news that the Worcestershire Acute Trust has been put into special measures and the Worcestershire Royal Hospital rated inadequate across a number of safety and leadership measures.

The report from the CQC relates to a visit in July and Robin has met with the Chairman of the Trust both immediately after the visit and in light of the report published today, to receive an update on progress with meeting the concerns it has raised. He also recently met with the leadership of the South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss their views of the local hospital. Yesterday he met with the Minister for Hospitals, Ben Gummer to press for additional support and was assured that the Government would be appointing an improvement director to work with the trust. He has praised staff for their dedication to continuing to provide high quality care, pressed for the much needed upgrade to the local hospital to be delivered as soon as possible and called for a resolute focus on patient safety.

Robin has consistently argued that the Worcestershire Royal Hospital was built too small and as a result has faced capacity problems over a number of years. He announced before the 2015 election his intention to campaign for a substantial upgrade to the Emergency Department at the Hospital and has already secured funding for a small interim expansion which will make a first step.

The findings of the CQC’s report from their inspection in July reflect the pressure on capacity at the hospital and in particular many of the areas in which the Trust was rated inadequate relate to these capacity challenges. Others relate to management and leadership due to the number of interim managers in place and Robin has backed calls for a new executive team to be put in place as soon as possible. Other points raised in the report related to the safety of the maternity unit at the Alexandra Hospital, which has since been acted upon and Robin has sought and has been given assurances that the highest priority is given to the safety of mothers and new born babies across Worcestershire.

The CQCs inspection highlighted a number of concerns and areas where the trust must improve, including:

  • The trust must ensure there are sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of patients including carrying out daily ward rounds.
  • Risk assessments must be completed and used effectively to prevent avoidable harm, for example to stop patients developing pressure ulcers.
  • The trust must ensure that patients’ nutrition and hydration are fully assessed, recorded and acted upon promptly if necessary.
  • A robust system must be developed to ensure children and young people with mental health needs are suitably risk assessed when admitted to services to ensure the care and support meets their needs.

Despite the overall rating of Inadequate, inspectors identified a number of areas of Outstanding practice across the trust, including:

  • There was an outstanding patient observation chart used within the critical care unit. This chart was regularly reviewed and updated.
  • In the maternity and gynaecology services, inspectors were told by women using the service that staff were consistently compassionate and caring. Women reported being treated with respect and dignity and having their privacy respected at all times.
  • Inspectors observed exceptional care in the early morning while visiting Avon 4 Ward at Worcester Royal Hospital. The staff approach to patients was extremely respectful, compassionate and caring.
  • The critical care team provided an outstanding example of compassion to a patient with a learning disability.

Robin has pointed out that as local MP he often hears from constituents with examples of exceptional care from the hospital and its staff, has frequently visited and always been impressed by the dedication of the staff at the hospital. The CQC report rated care good across the whole of the trust and in every department of the Worcestershire Royal Hospital except for maternity services which were rated outstanding.

Patient safety is one of the main areas in which the Trust was measured below standard and Robin has made clear that safety must be the first priority in addressing the concerns raised in the report. He has backed moves over the last few years to increase the number of full time staff at the trust but expressed concern at the high number of agency staff who continue to be needed. Many of the concerns raised by the CQC related to the processing of information about complaints and the ability of lessons to be learned when things go wrong. Robin has welcomed the response from Healthwatch which sets out their determination to work with the trust to put this right and the news that more support will be put in place from the Trust Development Authority.

The recent comprehensive spending review committed £6 billion of extra funding to the NHS over the next year, substantially more than had originally been planned and Robin is seeking an urgent meeting with Health Ministers to see how some of the this funding could be used to improve safety and provide much needed upgrades for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Commenting on the CQC report, Robin said:

“Our hospital provides some incredible care and in dealing with this tough report we should not in any way undermine the achievement of the passionate staff, clinicians and nurses who work so hard to provide that care. I have recognised for a long time however that there are real challenges with the capacity at the hospital, the departure of key executives from the trust and the lack of a comprehensive agreement on reconfiguration. Local MPs called for the latter to be resolved years ago and it is tragic that it has not been done sooner.”

“The key challenge now is to resolve the safety concerns raised by this report. This will mean meeting the capacity challenge and putting strong long-term management in place. It will mean working with other trusts and the TDA to bring about positive changes. I welcome the immediate and positive engagement by Healthwatch Worcestershire and welcome their ambition to help find a solution. I do also recognise that the interim management have put a huge amount of effort into turning things around and local commissioners have told me that A&E performance is already improving. However this report makes clear that further changes are needed.”

“As a local MP I want to see this problem resolved as soon as possible and I will do everything I can to lobby Ministers to support our hospital, its amazing staff and the case for a significant upgrade to it. No stone should be left unturned in providing safe care to my constituents in Worcester and patients across Worcestershire.”

Notes to editors

For the latest information from the Worcestershire Acute Trust see:

For the full CQC report on the Worcestershire Royal Hospital see:

For the announcement of support from the TDA see:

For the response on the local Healthwatch see:

For details of Robin’s campaigns for expanding the WRH see: