Hospital ‘acted immediately’ on theatre concerns

Joseph Bulmer

NORTHERN Devon Healthcare NHS Trust said this week that it had acted immediately to address concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission following an unannounced inspection at the North Devon District Hospital last month.

The CQC found “significant improvements to the way that patients’ care and treatment is planned and recorded” following concerns it expressed from two earlier visits, in March and July. It found the hospital was now compliant in all areas where they had previously felt improvements were necessary.

But, during their November visit, the CQC also inspected theatres and reported major concerns relating to compliance with safety checklists.

While it found no evidence of adverse outcomes for patients, it found the Trust was unable to demonstrate compliance with mandatory safety guidance and procedures.

The Trust responded this week by saying that it had acted immediately during the inspection to address the concerns in theatres, with the CQC noting steps had already been taken to address how surgical safety checklists were monitored during the third day of their inspection.

In a statement, it said: “The Trust considers patient safety to be paramount and is determined and confident that as a result of the actions taken, there will be full and comprehensive compliance.”

Among actions to address the concerns, the Trust said it is reviewing and introducing new, formalised, briefings by surgeons to ensure all staff are following guidance issued by the appropriate professional and expert bodies in relation to safe surgical procedures. It is also introducing monthly quality audits, with results being fed back to individual members of staff, to ensure robust systems are in place to manage and monitor the quality of mandatory safety procedures.

Additionally, it has asked other NHS Trusts who have been in a similar position to share their experience in ensuring strong compliance with surgical safety checklists to help rectify the situation.

Against the reports following the two previous visits, the CQC found that significant progress has been made and that the Trust has invested a lot of time and effort to making sure they have reviewed the standard and quality of records relating to patient care.

Overall the CQC found the Trust was meeting seven of the nine essential standards that were reviewed.

Jac Kelly, chief executive of the Nothern Devon NHS Healthcare Trust, said: “A phenomenal amount of effort has gone in to making the progress on the areas the CQC highlighted earlier this year. Certainly, when the inspectors asked patients what they thought, the comments could hardly have been more glowing. That’s a real tribute to our staff and their attitude.

“It is very disappointing that inspectors found that procedures relating to compliance with safety checklists in theatres are not to the standard they should have been.This is not acceptable and we took immediate action. It’s reassuring that the CQC found no evidence of adverse outcomes for patients, but I can assure everyone that we have taken the steps necessary to ensure our theatres follow all mandatory procedures and safety checklists. We acted immediately and we are confident that the CQC will see a transformation as and when the inspectors return”.