Published: 05/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5812 Page 4

A row has erupted over a Commission for Health Improvement report criticising patient care standards at Whipps Cross University Hospital trust.

The review, published today, was fast-tracked after a patient died in the Whipps Cross accident and emergency department.

It describes patient care as 'poor' and claims patient dignity was 'sometimes compromised' at the London trust. Mixed-sex wards and facilities were a concern and CHI saw 'several examples of poor customer care skills and attitudes'.

But trust chief executive Peter Coles has taken the unusual step of publicly rejecting the scores allocated by CHI in all seven areas of clinical governance. He said:

'Having analysed other recent CHI reports we consider that their approach to scoring these areas has not been consistent.'

The boss of what CHI describes as 'one of the busiest hospitals in the NHS' told HSJ that the trust was also concerned about comments in the report about 'poor' patient care. He claimed CHI had not provided clear examples of this.

'Clearly, we have got concerns about that ourselves and we asked for examples of that, because the statement was not helpful, ' he said. 'They did reassure us they didn't mean poor clinical care.'

Mr Coles said the trust believed problems were caused by old, open-plan wards leading to problems with privacy, rather than poor personal care. He raised his concerns with CHI before completion of the report, but the watchdog declined to change its conclusions.