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“Leadership disconnect” keeps Colchester University Trust in special measures


20 January 2016

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Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust will remain in special measures after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection resulted in it receiving an overall rating of inadequate.

Following the inspection, professor Sir Mike Richards, the chief inspector of hospitals, responded: “We found there was a disconnect between what was happening on the front line and the senior management team; for example the trust board seemed unaware of significant backlogs and patient safety concerns across outpatient services.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust will remain in special measures after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection resulted in it receiving an overall rating of inadequate.

Following the inspection, professor Sir Mike Richards, the chief inspector of hospitals, responded: “We found there was a disconnect between what was happening on the front line and the senior management team; for example the trust board seemed unaware of significant backlogs and patient safety concerns across outpatient services.

“The multiple changes in leadership have made many people lose confidence in the trust. It is clear that the trust cannot solve these important issues on its own, and will require continued support for the foreseeable future,” he added.

The Trust was authorised as a Foundation Trust by Monitor in May 2008. The Trust is an associate teaching hospital of the University of London. 

The trust was placed into special measures in November 2013 following concerns about patient care in cancer services and during the inspection in September and October 2015, CQC inspectors found the trust needed to make a number of urgent improvements.

Sir Mike has written to the secretary of state for health recommending that the trust remain in special measures for a period of three months during which time they will submit a weekly improvement plan to the CQC. If there is no improvement in that time, the CQC will consider further steps.

There have also been recruitment challenges, and there were “significant shortfalls” of registered nursing staff and medical staff, which was particularly evident at night and during weekends, the CQC stated.

Frank Sims, the new permanent chief executive of the Trust, who took on the role last October said he was disappointed with the CQC reports, but pledged to use them as a "blueprint for improvement".

Sims said: “I welcome the reports because they provide an invaluable blueprint for the improvements we need to make to deliver the best possible care for patients, and for the Trust to be upgraded and taken out of special measures." 

The Trust pointed out that the reports also highlighted that 95% of patients would recommend using Colchester General Hospital in the latest NHS Friends and Family test, and inspectors saw “some good examples of multidisciplinary working across the trust and into the community.”

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