Barts rated inadequate by top inspector after Newham University Hospital visit

Newham University Hospital

Newham University Hospital - Credit: Archant

The NHS Trust that runs Newham University Hospital has been judged “inadequate” by the country’s top hospital inspector, with safety and leadership highlighted as areas for concern.

The damning pronouncement follows a decision by independent health service regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to put Barts Health NHS Trust into special measures in March.

That came after an inspection of Whipps Cross Hospital, one of six run by the trust, which in turn prompted the regulator to send in England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, to inspect Newham and the Royal London Hospital.

In his report, published on Friday, Sir Mike outlined confusion over leadership, a lack of engagement with staff, low morale and high levels of stress as areas for concern within the trust’s three main London hospitals.

Barts is the largest NHS health trust in England serving well over two million people. Sir Mike said that as a result it was “all the more disappointing” to report the extent and level of concerns.

“Across the trust there is too little attention paid to safety, with failures in incident reporting and auditing and in dealing with or learning from complaint,” he said.

In all there have been 65 areas identified where the trust must make improvements. The Trust Development Authority is said to be helping to support improvement.

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A spokeswoman for NHS Newham Clinical Commission Group (CCG) said the group was “disappointed” in the overall rating and acknowledged some quality standards needed to be addressed “as a matter of priority”.

She added: “We believe that this report and the undoubted dedication of staff, along with the support the trust is now receiving will make a difference. We will continue to work closely with the Trust to make improvements that are so clearly needed.

“The CQC’s report will act as a catalyst to speed up improvements as we continue to work together, support staff and turn this situation around.”

Newham’s mayoral advisor for adults and health, Clive Furness, also called the overall assessment of Newham University Hospital “disappointing”, adding: “It clearly spells out that there are issues around the management of the Trust. These need to be urgently addressed and rectified.

Despite being labelled inadequate overall, inspectors rated Newham University Hospital as good for urgent and emergency services and said patients felt well cared for and staff felt supported with excellent outcomes for stroke victims.

Sir Mike also praised a “very committed” workforce who felt valued by their patients, colleagues and local managers but who said they felt undervalued by trust leadership.