Trust has paid price for cutting nurse jobs, RCN claims

Barts Health NHS Trust has been placed in special measures after the Care Quality Commission found insufficient staffing to provide safe care, a culture of bullying and poor leadership

England’s largest trust has been placed in special measures by the NHS Trust Development Authority after one of its hospitals was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Inspectors found 15 areas requiring improvement at Whipps Cross University Hospital in east London, one of six hospitals run by Barts Health NHS Trust. CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said: 'Our inspection of Whipps Cross University Hospital has highlighted a number of serious concerns surrounding poor leadership, a culture of bullying and low staffing, which has led to risks to patient safety.'

The regulator's report added that a reorganisation of staffing in 2013 had had a damaging impact – staff were overstretched and there was an atmosphere that did not help in recruiting or retaining permanent staff. In addition, some agency staff had not been trained properly in their roles.

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: ‘The RCN has stated repeatedly that the decision taken by Barts Health two years ago to cut and downband several hundred nursing posts would jeopardise patient care. It is to our great disappointment that this has proved to be the case.

‘Barts now has the highest deficit and highest agency nursing bill in England, with vacancy rates up by about 15%. After what has happened at Barts, cutting jobs and wages can never again be seen as safe or sustainable way to fix funding shortages in the NHS,’ he added.

Barts chief executive Peter Morris said: ‘This report describes services that fall a long way short of what we aspire to. We are very sorry for the failings identified by the CQC in some of our services at Whipps Cross and we know the trust has a big challenge ahead.’

To read the CQC inspection report click here

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