A damning independent report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has described St Mary’s Hospital’s A&E unit as ‘inadequate’ while praising the threatened A&E unit at Charing Cross Hospital.
The CQC report adds fuel to the fire of Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s campaign against the closure of Charing Cross Hospital’s A&E and against plans to demolish the hospital and replace it with what will be mainly a GP led clinic a fraction of the current hospital’s size. The CQC’s findings add to H&F Council’s concerns that it would be negligent to direct H&F’s patients to St Mary’s ‘inadequate’ facilities.
The CQC, the independent regulator of health and social care services in England, released its report on the state of local hospitals run by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust today (December 16) after it inspected St Mary’s in Paddington, Charing Cross, Hammersmith and Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea hospitals in September.
The CQC’s ‘inadequate’ rating for St Mary’s A&E was given before the full effects of closing the A&E units at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals were known. The A&Es at Hammersmith and central Middlesex were closed on September 10.
The report comes after newspapers published an internal memo dated July 15 from Professor Jamil Mamet, who heads the surgery and cancer division of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The memo was titled ‘Finances — urgh!’ and told how the Trust’s finances were so weak it may cause the scrapping of the trust’s application for self-governing ‘foundation’ status.
The board of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has now cancelled the public board meeting scheduled for tomorrow (December 17) and is believed to be having a ‘closed session meeting’ to discuss the CQC’s damming report.
Describing the failures at the A&E unit at St Mary’s, the Commission said: “The standards of cleaning and maintenance of some equipment was inadequate. [There are] issues with patient flow because of the A&E department’s physical capacity.
“There was a lack of bed capacity for those who needed admission. We also had some concerns about the leadership in the A&E department.”
In stark contrast, the Commission had this to say about the A&E unit at Charing Cross: “The department was well-designed and operated efficiently and safely [with] a strong culture of learning and improving, both from incidents and from the views of patients.
“Patients we spoke with were very positive about the care and treatment they received. They said staff took the time to listen to them and explain any treatment that was required. There was strong, consistent leadership and staff were proud to be working in the A&E department.”
Reacting to the CQC’s report Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: “This is a damming report which backs our view that closing Charing Cross Hospital’s A&E will put lives at risk. This comes just a few months after it emerged the Trust had serious financial problems and it raises wider questions about the competency of the people arguing for Charing Cross Hospital to become a much smaller urgent care clinic. We are determined to defend Charing Cross and our local NHS and this report demonstrates just why it’s vital we do that.”
The CQC report calls into question staffing levels at St Mary’s, which are now under greater pressure. “Action had been taken to mitigate the risk of inadequate staffing levels but was sometimes impacting on patient care,” the report said. “Capacity in some areas did not meet demand; this had resulted in a backlog of more than 3,500 patients waiting.”
As result, H&F Council has set up an independent commission with three nearby councils – to be chaired by leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC – to address proposals to reduce local hospital services.
Growing disquiet at the knock-on effect on other hospitals of the closure of emergency services at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith has also resulted in the surprise announcement by NHS England of its own inquiry into how hospital reconfiguration in west London is being handled.