Dr Martin Kuper. Whittington's medical director has followed the chief executive out of the door this week
Published: 11 April, 2014
by TOM FOOT
BED shortages causing 12-hour waits in A&E, a patient shouting out for help for more than 40 minutes and a “risk of patients being resuscitated against their wishes” have been reported at the Whittington Hospital by the Government’s health watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission has filed a report following its latest inspection of the Highgate NHS Trust on January 8.
The report said: “During a visit to A&E, inspectors found patients being treated in the department due to beds being unavailable elsewhere in the hospital. The previous night seven patients had spent the night in the department waiting for a vacant bed on a ward.
Of these, five patients were subsequently admitted and two discharged after a period of over 12 hours in A&E. In addition, A&E was unable to assess and treat patients as intended as cubicles were occupied by those who needed to be treated elsewhere.”
A plan to shut the A&E, which sees 90,000 patients a year, was scrapped following a major campaign in 2010. The hospital has been struggling to cope with funding cuts.
The CQC report said that in Meyrick and the Outpatients Wards “care and treatment was not always planned and delivered in a way that ensured people’s safety and welfare”.
It said that in Meyrick Ward, only six out of 15 patients had their call bell within reach of their bed.
“We observed one patient calling out for help for 40 minutes and no staff offered assistance during this time. This patient did not have a call bell accessible to them and appeared distressed.”
Meyrick Ward was one of the wards that would have been shut down if the Whittington’s estates strategy, published in January 2013 but scrapped after a second campaign, had been approved.
The CQC report added: “The patient documentation on Meyrick Ward was poorly maintained. This meant that patients were at risk of receiving poor care. Do Not Resuscitate forms had not been completed accurately for some patients. This meant there was a risk someone may be resuscitated contrary to their wishes.”
In a report to the board, the outgoing chief executive Dr Yi Mien Koh said: “The report categorises Trusts into six risk bands, with Band 1 being of most concern and Band 6 considered the least risky. In the previous report published in October 2013. Whittington Hospital was put in Band 4.
“In this latest report we are in Band 6. I would like to thank all of our hardworking staff for this excellent achievement which is also the result of having a patient safety and risk aware culture.”
WHITTINGTON Hospital has been left with “significant leadership challenges” after its medical director followed the chief executive out of the door this week, writes Tom Foot.
Dr Martin Kuper has announced he will quit the Highgate NHS Trust to take up a new job at Homerton Hospital in Hackney.
Chief executive Dr Yi Mien Koh left on April 1, making a total of eight senior board directors to quit since plans to sell off a large chunk of the hospital and axe hundreds of staff and beds were scrapped in July 2013.
This week’s hospital board papers said the departures had left “significant leadership challenges in driving change and performance improvement in terms of capacity and capability”.
A report added: “At the executive level, the CEO has resigned. The chief finance officer and director of nursing and patient experience are both interim appointments, until June 30. The director of OD [organisational development] and director of communications are fixed-term appointments. The trust secretary post is vacant. Recruitment for permanent staff is under way.”
Hospital chairman Steve Hitchins, appointed in January, criticised the “weak leadership” of his predecessors at a recent meeting of the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition.
The trust is parachuting in Siobhan Harrington, a former Whittington director during previous CEO Rob Larkman’s reign, to take up the role of deputy chief executive.
Dr Kuper was one of a group of consultants who signed a letter opposing the closure of the A&E department in 2010. He admitted the sell-off plan was over-ambitious.