Special measures fears for hospital

Jackie Daniel, chief executive at Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Jackie Daniel, chief executive at Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The trust that runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary is facing special measures as its leadership and patient safety comes under fire in a damning report.

There are major concerns over staffing levels in medical departments, according to a draft Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, which has rated services at the trust “inadequate’”following an inspection in February.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) could now be placed into special measures, according to Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron.

A draft copy of the CQC’s report was leaked to the press. The trust said it did not wish to comment until the final report was published.

Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood said he intended to meet with the CQC to question how they measured the services.

He said: “I don’t get how you can have services that are effective, yet unsafe.

“I think things are improving all the time at the trust, and the vast majority of people are getting a good service there.

“The geography of Morecambe Bay is an obstacle for the trust, as it is judged on similar-sized trusts and I’m going to be speaking to the minister about this specifically. Retention of staff is also a big issue.”

Last week, UHMBT chairman John Cowdall and medical director George Nasmyth announced their resignations.

The trust would not comment on the draft report, but Jackie Daniel, chief executive of UHMBT said that once the trust received the final, published version, it will “share and discuss the findings and our response openly”.

The report said that effectiveness of services and care provided at the trust were “good”, however “there was no clear strategy for the future of services across the trust”, and “strategic plans and risks were not well known at ward or team level”.

Inspectors found that there was a heavy reliance on the Better Care Together strategy, expected in July, to address challenges facing the trust.

Systems for reporting incidents were not consistently followed, and the trust failed to drive changes and improve practice by learning from reported incidents.

Areas of concern where staff have failed to follow guidelines or protocols were also identified, and audits were not consistently applied to secure improvements and manage risks.

Communication between management and front line staff, with the exception of the executive nurse, was found to be “poor”, and staffing concerns on ward 39 and other medical wards was having an adverse impact on the quality of care provided to patients.

But Mr Ollerenshaw added: “The Better Care Together proposals are expected in July, and I think people will be pleasantly surprised about what’s in it.”