Lawyers who have dealt with cases of medical negligence and human rights breaches within hospitals have voiced their concerns following an announcement that St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC announced their decision today following an inspection in June which rated the trust as inadequate overall. The trust serves around 1.3 million people in south-west London and comprises of St George’s and Queen Mary’s hospitals.
Some of the findings of the CQC included buildings and operating theatres that were not fit for purpose, inconsistent application of infection control procedures and insufficient mental health assessment capacity. There were also concerns raised regarding safeguarding and care of children and young people, particularly those with mental health issues.
The Trust was rated outstanding for maternity and gynaecology services and for kidney transplants and kidney patient survival rates. It was also rated good for caring.
The CQC found that services at the trust had deteriorated over the last two years, following an inspection in 2014 which rated the trust as good. The trust has said that it has made progress since the June inspection and that the report is a key part of improving services.
Emma Jones from Leigh Day, who represented nearly 200 families who raised issues of appalling treatment and care and human rights issues at Stafford Hospital, said: “The fact that St George’s trust has gone into special measures is worrying in itself as it is meant to be one of the beacon teaching hospitals. What gives further cause for concern is that this comes so quickly on the heels of the trust being granted Foundation Trust status in February 2015. Less than two years later it has gone into special measures with concerns including quality of leadership at the trust.
“This was one of the issues that was explored in relation to the Stafford hospital – the fact that Stafford was granted Foundation Trust status when we now know it was in real difficulty. This raises questions of whether trusts are compromising patient safety and quality of services in order to gain Foundation Trust status, with serious consequences.”
Nicola Wainwright, part of Leigh Day’s clinical negligence team which has dealt with a number of cases arising from the trust, added: “As medical negligence specialists we have seen a number of cases arising from care provided at St George’s Hospital which have concerned us, particularly given its supposed standing as a leading teaching hospital . We have found the trust slow to respond to families’ complaints and concerns and unwilling to make early admissions of liability.
“In terms of patient safety it is worrying that the trust has had to be put into special measures by the CQC instead of the issues identified being picked up and dealt with by those in charge before it came to this. We hope that now these problems have been identified action will be taken to ensure that patients are safe and receive good quality care.”