• CQC says some staff “lacked compassion” and cut trust’s rating for caring
  • Trust rated “inadequate” overall as new leadership grapples to take grip
  • New chief and chair welcomed report and vowed to turn trust around 

Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn Foundation Trust will remain in special measures after Care Quality Commission inspectors said they found an “extremely concerning” lack of improvement.

The Norfolk district general hospital remains rated “inadequate” overall – and in an unusual move, inspectors cut its rating for how caring the staff were from “good” to “requires improvement”.

The report detailed a series of reasons for cutting its caring rating. It said inspectors witnessed staff not always acting with compassion and appearing “indifferent to their caring role” while patients were sometimes denied privacy and dignity.

The CQC also took immediate enforcement action because of concerns about the safety of mental health patients in the trust’s emergency department.

The regulator issued two urgent conditions on the trust’s registration under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 section 31, which the CQC can use if it believes there is a patient safety risk.

The trust said in a statement: “Work is underway to make the improvements needed to meet the trust’s legal requirements, which included making immediate changes to ensure our ED is safe for patients who may have mental health issues.”

The CQC also said it found “significant concerns and risks to patients within the urgent and emergency service, medicine, end of life care and gynaecology which were raised with the trust immediately”.

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker said: “Many of these concerns had previously been identified at our inspection in 2018, yet necessary improvements had not been made.”

He added: “It was extremely concerning to find little evidence of improvement on our return to [the trust]. Improvements that needed to be made had not been made and the service fell short of what people should be able to expect.

“During our inspection we found a lack of processes and systems to ensure the effective oversight and governance of services.”

The rating represents the latest blow for the troubled trust which has recently overhauled its board, appointing both a new chief executive and chair.

Nottingham University Hospital Trust deputy chief Caroline Shaw took over as chief executive in January following Jon Green standing down from the role. Mr Green’s departure followed the trust being put back into special measures in September 2018 – a move the trust said it “fully accepted”.

The trust’s newly appointed chairman Steve Barnett, who replaced Edward Libbey last year, and Ms Shaw said they welcomed the CQC’s feedback and that it would help them turn the trust around.

The trust said its recent overhaul of its leadership team and the recruitment of more staff, including 81 nurses from the Philippines arriving over the coming months, would help the trust to significantly improve its services.

Professor Barnett added in a statement: “People should not lose sight of many things that QEH does well and the improvements we are committed to making by working together.

“We are absolutely determined to get this right for our patients. There are some success stories, lots of work in progress and also some very real challenges that we have begun tackling. What the trust needs now is stability, which changes to our leadership at board level will soon bring.

“I am confident that through all of the changes we are making, and with the determination from our staff across the trust, that there is a bright future ahead and that even though we are on a long journey, our progress will begin to show when the CQC return.”