Health boss promises improvements at Stoke Mandeville Hospital following report

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Bucks health chief Anne Eden says she is taking a damning report into staffing at Stoke Mandeville Hospital ‘very seriously’.

The Care Quality Commission today demanded urgent action to address staffing shortages and inadequate training at the Aylesbury hospital but said that other areas such as patient care were up to scratch (see full story).

Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive Anne Eden said: “We are committed to the care and safety of our patients, and to ensure that our staff have the right development and support.

“I am pleased, and I hope patients will be reassured, that the Care Quality Commission was happy with the overall standard of care and welfare provided to those who use our services.

“However, we are never complacent and aim for continuous improvement. I recognise that some improvements are still required around staffing and support; this is something that the board has already acknowledged and been working on for some time.

“I am pleased that our appraisal uptake has significantly increased and that we have been successful in our staff recruitment campaigns. We are taking the feedback from inspectors very seriously and have instigated a number of additional actions to those already underway within the trust to ensure further improvements are quickly made.

“We are confident that we will be able to meet the June 30 deadline for compliance.”

In a statement the trust said it was pleased that inspectors found the hospitals to be compliant in key care standards, in particular the standards for ‘care and welfare for people who use services’ and ‘safety, availability and suitability of equipment’.

The statement continues:

“Inspectors also noted that ‘most people were positive about the care they received’.

“The inspectors, in their report, have highlighted specific improvements that the trust is required to make, in particular against the ‘supporting workers’ standard at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

“The trust was disappointed to hear that some staff had said that they had not participated in clinical supervision. In some parts of the trust, for example maternity, clinical supervision is mandatory.

“Clinical supervision is not universally mandatory, but we have recognised that it is good practice and therefore over the past year we have been working to roll this support programme out across other clinical areas - the CQC inspection shows that this has not been fully embedded yet.

“The trust was also concerned to hear that some staff had reported that they had not been given regular appraisals.

“This is something that the board had been made aware of through staff surveys, and although many managers do regularly have appraisals with their teams it is recognised that this is not consistently applied across our services.

“The trust has been working with staff to understand what the barriers are to having an appraisal and has taken steps to simplify the process. A new ‘exemplar status’ accreditation for our wards and departments has been established, and appraisal uptake is one of the key indicators of the accreditation process.

“In recent weeks seven areas have been awarded this status, with several more in the pipeline. In March alone, 500 appraisals were recorded. This demonstrates to us that more appraisals are taking place, and we have an action plan in place to ensure the vast majority of staff will have had an appraisal by the end of May as it is really important that each and every member of the team knows the role they play in delivering our corporate objectives and continue to improve the quality and safety of our services.

“Inspectors also asked the Trust to look at the ‘staffing’ standard at both Amersham and Stoke Mandeville hospitals; although no specific enforcement notice was given. Whilst the hospitals’ wards had the right staffing establishments, the inspectors found that, on the days they visited, sickness and absenteeism had led to a higher use of agency staff in some areas.

“The trust board was already aware of this issue and has been actively working to resolve it, having held successful overseas recruitment drives in Ireland and Portugal in recent months to reduce the reliance on agency and temporary staff.

“Other actions the trust is taking to address the issues raised by the CQC include:

> Implementing a ‘buddy’ scheme, where clinical leaders from our ‘exemplar’ areas provide support to those requiring improvement

> Streamlining our appraisal and mandatory training requirements

> Launching protocol and monitoring for clinical supervision

> Implementing ward level training needs analysis based on individual appraisal and personal development plans

> Ensuring staff are allocated time to undertake e-learning

> Reviewing staffing requirements across clinical areas, indentifying minimum and optimum staffing levels.”