BY YANN TEAR
An NHS trust has been told to improve its critical care services and make better use of the resources at its disposal after it was reported that two hospitals under its wing faced “many challenges”.
Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust has been rated as “Requires Improvement” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following its latest round of inspections.
Its rating remains unchanged from its last two inspections in 2015 and 2017. The NHS trust includes University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Woolwich which provides services in Greenwich and Bexley.
The CQC noted improvements in most of the services inspected since 2015 and 2017 but reported that ‘many challenges’ still exist throughout. The NHS trust’s services were assessed on whether they were safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.
Overall the CQC report rated four of the five services as requiring improvement. One area in which there was a noticeable improvement was patient care.
The CQC observed that staff were caring and attentive towards patients who in turn said staff were friendly and helpful. The CQC also published its findings on whether the trust was making adequate use of its resources, finding that it too ‘Requires Improvement’.
Financial goals for the year 2017/18 were missed with the trust recording a deficit of £61.8m, compared with an original forecast of £39.4m. The CQC report found that the trust failed to meet its A&E standard across its two sites in each of the previous 12 months.
The rate of patients not attending appointments — known as the Did Not Attend (DNA) rate — was also flagged as a potential issue with hospitals scheduling appointments at inappropriate times and patients unclear on how to rearrange an appointment.
In the first quarter (April-June) of the 2018/19 financial year, the DNA rate was 12.55%, much higher than the national median of 7,37%. A new CEO and Chief Nurse were appointed in April 2018 but retention levels remain a cause for concern, driven by pay controls and the use of agency staff.
CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “There has been some improvement in the quality of care in some areas at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.
“The strengthened leadership team needs to drive marked improvement in the trust’s ratings in the future and with that in mind we will continue to monitor the trust’s progress carefully.”