Imperial College Healthcare Trust has become the first Shelford Group trust to be rated ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Although the London trust was rated “good” for being effective and caring, it was rated requires improvement for being safe, responsive and well led.

The CQC flagged concerns about the trust’s backlog for elective surgery.

The Shelford Group represents the 10 biggest teaching hospitals in England. The only other trust in the group to be rated by the CQC has been Oxford University Hospitals Trust, which was rated “good”.


Imperial ‘must take action to tackle surgical backlogs’, Sir Mike Richards said

Imperial currently has more patients that have waited longer than the 18 week target for treatment than any trust in the country, with 10,885 such waiters recorded in October.

The watchdog found that cleanliness and infection control was “inconsistent across the trust”.

There were also not enough nurses in some areas and a high reliance on bank and agency staff.

Of the four Imperial hospitals the CQC inspected, Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s were rated “requires improvement” overall, but Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital received a rating of good.

Outpatient services at Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s were “inadequate”, as was accident and emergency at the latter.

The trust was not hitting its target for sending outpatient appointment letters and some patients were not receiving their letters at all.

Following its inspection, the CQC issued a formal warning in relation to hygiene at St Mary’s A&E, but said it had since returned to the hospital and found the necessary improvements had been made.

The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, said: “The trust must take action to tackle surgical backlogs and to improve their systems to ensure people awaiting outpatient appointments do not experience unnecessary delays and inconvenience.”

Imperial’s chief executive Tracey Batten said that while the trust was “disappointed” with the overall rating, the report was “extremely constructive”.

She said an action plan to address the CQC’s findings would be produced by mid January.