Hospital inspections need to "radically improve" says Medical Negligence expert

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Hospital inspections need to "radically improve" says Medical Negligence expert

19th July 2013

A leading medical negligence expert has lambasted the current system of hospital inspections as deeply flawed and said much more needs to be done to radically improve inspections in England.

Daniel Lee, head of the Manchester medical negligence department at Fentons Solicitors LLP said: “We’re hearing from more and more clients about how they’ve completely lost faith in the CQC (Care Quality Commission) as the current system just simply isn’t working. The parameters for inspectors are too broad, the inspections themselves and any resultant sanctions seem ineffective and the whole body is viewed by most as simply not fit for purpose.”

Daniel was speaking after the government announced 11 NHS Trusts faced ‘special measures,’ involving teams of external experts being brought in to work with senior management to ensure changes took place, after a number of previously unidentified failings were uncovered following the publication of an independent review led by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

“It has become abundantly clear just how disillusioned and angry patients and the public have become with the current system of inspections,” said Daniel, a partner at the firm. “Patient care must always be the priority and it is extremely distressing how corporate self-interest has so obviously been put first in so many hospitals in recent years.”

The investigation into 14 hospital trusts earlier this year, which were identified as having the highest death rates in 2010-11 and 2011-12, revealed a number of failings which included staffing problems, poor care standards and weak and ineffective leadership. Out of the 11 trusts that were identified as needing urgent attention, only two had been facing sanctions from the CQC.

Welcoming the recent comments from the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, who said the current CQC system had been ‘too narrow in focus,’ Daniel said: “The public have been betrayed for too long now in regard to the quality of care and treatment available to them. The recent findings into hospital failings are absolutely scandalous and highlight just how critical it is that we focus all available resources towards accelerating improvements.”

The new system, outlined by Sir Mike Richards, who took up his new post this week, will be, in his words, a ‘completely different way of inspecting hospitals’ using a ‘small army’ of doctors, nurses, patients and carers to carry out inspections and ratings.

“Although all these plans for change must of course be welcomed, frankly we’re a little tired with the endless rhetoric we hear day in day out,” said Daniel. ”The CQC need to concentrate on death and infection rates as well as patient surveys to ensure they’re fully aware of which trusts need to be prioritised for inspection. Everyone knows the previous system was deeply flawed. What we need now is action to implement a robust and sustained system of inspections that don’t simply target individual areas for improvement, but instead examine each hospital as a whole.”

“We need to especially target A&E services and ensure that inspection teams not only include patients, but also include practising doctors and nurses experienced in the areas they’re tasked with looking at,” he added. “We know it’s a huge challenge but we need to do everything we can to improve the culture and standards of care in hospitals to ensure patient’s needs are prioritised and hospitals are providing a safe, well-organised and effective service.”

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Read more at:BBC