WORKFORCE: A troubled east London trust is to get extra support from clinicians on the capital’s Fellowships in Clinical Leadership scheme, formerly known as the Darzi Fellowship.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust aims to recruit the “Darzi fellows” before Christmas.

News of the move follows heavily criticism of the trust in a Care Quality Commission report last week and government approval of plans to downgrade some of its services.

Darzi fellows already work individually with other London trusts but HSJ understands the deployment at Barking, Havering and Redbridge will be on a larger scale.

The fellowship was started in April 2009 by surgeon and former minister Lord Ara Darzi and aims to stimulate clinical leadership. Fellows undergo a leadership development programme run jointly by NHS London, the London Deanery and the King’s Fund. So far around 40 clinicians have completed it.

An NHS London document said the fellows would be working at the trust for one or two years to “develop a cadre of new consultants who are confident and competent to lead and manage change and improvement”.

The minutes of an NHS London meeting said the move aimed to “develop the capability of existing medical and allied staff in leading for quality improvement and embed a culture of quality improvement within the trust”.

The minutes acknowledged “there was discussion around how the Darzi fellows would be received by clinicians in the trust”, but the plan had the backing of its chief executive Averil Dongworth and medical director Stephen Burgess.

Last Thursday the CQC warned the trust that, despite previous concerns being highlighted about services, only “some signs” of improvement had been seen and in some cases standards had actually worsened, particularly in maternity care.

The regulator began a full investigation of care at the trust’s Queen’s Hospital in Romford in July after issuing warning notices in June and July on standards of care and emergency treatment.

In its latest report, the regulator said: “We have identified ongoing concerns in emergency care and in radiology. Widespread improvement is needed in patients’ experiences, patient flows, the management of complaints, staff recruitment and governance.

“Long standing concerns in maternity services have progressively worsened,” it added.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said inspectors found a “lack of learning from maternal deaths” and that “patient flows still aren’t good enough”. But she said Ms Dongworth, who was appointed chief executive in January, and her team were “getting hold of it”.

Also last Thursday, health secretary Andrew Lansley backed an Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s recommendation to downgrade maternity and emergency services at the trust’s King George Hospital in Ilford and centralise them at Queen’s. But he said the CQC must be satisfied quality had improved at Queen’s first.