Kettering General Hospital has been placed into special measures after being rated as ‘inadequate’ by health regulators.
The hospital has come under heavy criticism from the Care Quality Commission in a report published today (Wednesday).
Two out of five areas rated – safe and well-led – were given the lowest score possible following the inspection in October last year, meaning the hospital is rated overall as ‘inadequate’.
Kettering General Hospital’s director of nursing and quality, Leanne Hackshall, said: “We welcome the CQC’s very detailed inspection of the trust and are disappointed that we did not do better in it.
“We have an improvement plan under way which is addressing the areas highlighted by the CQC.
“Some actions are already complete and others are in process.
“Clearly it will take some time to address all of the issues listed in the report and bring them up to standard.”
The report highlighted a number of areas where the hospital must improve including increasing safety and making sure key areas such as A&E are not understaffed.
KGH says in the six months since the inspection it has already implemented a number of measures and is constantly working to improve.
It has taken on more consultants, improved security on the children’s ward, spent £2.1m in a pharmacy refurbishment and strengthened the way staff manage risk.
The hospital’s medical director, Dr Andrew Chilton, said: “The inspectors found a significant number of places where we must improve – including some of our processes for managing and recording risk.
“This was a key factor in our rating because it impacted on our safe and well led domains, which led to our overall rating of inadequate.
“We have already made some changes and are working hard to improve and strengthen our systems and processes.
“I know our staff will be concerned about our rating and they will want to work with their teams to address the concerns raised by the CQC.
“As the CQC has acknowledged, patient flow and having enough bed capacity to meet demand is a pressure for us and we are working with our commissioners to tackle this.”
Kettering General Hospital’s chairman, Graham Foster, moved to reassure patients and the public.
He said: “We fully acknowledge the scale of concerns raised by the CQC and are rapidly responding to them.
“I want to reassure the public that in most cases our services show good clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction and emphasise that the CQC found our staff caring, passionate and professional.
“We are committed to addressing the issues raised by the CQC but we do also need to address some of the trust’s underlying demand pressures and resources which do impact on the care we are able to deliver.”
This was echoed by Ms Hackshall, who said that while the CQC highlighted safety concerns, it “did not identify any areas of harm”.
While the hospital has been criticised, CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, praised staff for their passion despite struggling with demand.
He said: “My inspection team found that the majority of staff were hard working, passionate and caring but had to struggle against the pressures they faced.
“We found that staff treated patients with dignity and respect which is why we rated the trust as good for being caring.
“Good practice was noted across critical care and end of life care services in particular.
“One of the reasons we rated the trust as inadequate for being well-led and safe was because risks to patients were not always identified and when they were identified, there was a lack of adequate management of these.
“In addition, there was a lack of learning from incidents to prevent patient harm.
“This was particularly the case in the emergency department, outpatients and services for children and young people.
“Patient flow and bed capacity to meet demand had been a significant pressure for the hospital for a number of months.
“Feedback from patients about staff was positive but it was clear staff were struggling with the demands of the service, particularly within A&E.”
With the trust now in special measures, NHS Improvement will work alongside it and further inspections will be made by the CQC.
Kathy McLean, executive medical director at NHS Improvement, said: “The trust is facing a number of challenges currently.
“Our intensive special measures support will help them to make rapid improvements to patient services.
“We will be supporting the trust to improve at pace, especially in relation to the emergency department and children and young people’s services which were identified as particular areas of concern.
“Patient safety remains our top priority, and each of the report’s concerns will be addressed through our support package to the trust.”
Jeff Worrall, delivery and improvement director at NHS Improvement, said: “Like hospitals up and down the country, the trust is facing increased demand on its services, particularly in A&E.
“This has led to longer waiting times and other safety concerns.
“We are working closely with the trust to improve this quickly, and our support programme is already having an impact, as identified by the CQC.”
The trust was rated good overall for providing caring services for patients.
This was true across all eight services inspected.
Inspectors said: “All staff were passionate about providing high quality patient care – patients we spoke to described staff as caring and professional.”
In the remaining two categories – providing effective and responsive services – the trust requires improvement.
Areas of outstanding practice included the children’s ward play team and chaplaincy.