Northampton General Hospital will be one of the next hospitals to be inspected as part of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new scheme after it was named among the most concerning hospitals in the country.
NGH will be one of 19 acute and specialist trusts to be inspected under the direction of the CQC’s new chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards.
However it was been given top priority in the inspections because its risk rating category, on a scale of one to six, was the highest possible,
The rating was made up of five elevated risks and four lower risks.
The elevated risks are: NGH’s mortality indicator, high caesarean rates, lack of support from senior managers being flagged up in a staff survey, staff registration issues and relatively high numbers of whistle blowing alerts.
The lower risk ratings came from: A&E waiting times, hip fracture care standards, deaths from liver and digestive system diseases conditions and procedures as well as the missing of some targets in consecutive months.
In a statement, Dr Sonia Swart, chief executive of NGH, said: “We welcome the opportunities that the CQC inspection will give us to make further improvements to the services we provide.
“Feedback from our patients and our staff, along with our own internal inspection processes, scrutiny and constructive challenge from regulators enables us to provide even better care for our patients.
“We know there are areas where we need to take action to ensure our services are of a consistently high quality and there is an enormous amount of work already underway.
“The CQC inspection will complement this work and help us to improve patient care even further.”
NGH has said it will not grant interview requests about the upcoming inspection.
However, several of the issues that, as a collective, have prompted concern from the CQC have been reported on individually in the Chron in recent months and years.
- A&E concerns have been flagged up as an issue in Northampton, as well as other areas of the country, for more than two years and NHS Nene, East Midlands Ambulance Service and NGH are all working on measures to alleviate long waiting times.
- Deaths from liver and digestive system conditions and procdures are tied in with the mortality indicators, which were first reported three years ago. Dr Swart, who was then medical director, said the method of predicting deaths had several flaws, including that poor data recording by NGH staff could skew predictions, making normal numbers of deaths seem more concerning. The other was that the data can only indicate if there may be a problem area that needs looking into, not that there are definitely worrying numbers of deaths.
- High caesarean rates were most recently reported in the Chron last year. The procedure can be risky so high rates flag up alerts. However, the NHS nationally is pushing midwives to give choice for mums-to-be and many in Northampton choose to have caesarean sections.
- Whistle blowing was reported on in the Chron last month after two nurses raised concerns about care on Cedar Ward in August. The hospital said in September that nursing care had improved already due to actions taken following complaints. Measures have included making sure call bells were answered more quickly and patients received the pain relief they needed.