PERFORMANCE: The interim chair of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust has described a Care Quality Commission report into the Cumberland Infirmary as “very disturbing”. He warned the trust to be prepared for similar findings in a forthcoming report on the West Cumberland Hospital.

The report on the Cumberland Infirmary – published last month – highlighted issues around care and welfare of patients, staffing and record keeping. The CQC found that staffing issues had a major impact on patient, although the trust had reviewed staffing and was trying to recruit more nurses and doctors.

Poor record keeping also had a major impact on patients, with overdue assessments and in some cases no treatment charts and incomplete care plans. In a case where a patient had a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice, this had not been completely filled in and it might be unclear in an emergency what their wishes were.

In a report to the board, interim chair Ian Gordon said that the CQC report – together with the Keogh review of trusts with high mortality rates – had “brought into the open stories of unacceptable patient experience, and of the pressures staff have felt arising from the constant demand to make efficiency savings”.

“We need to face up to that evidence if we are to tackle the challenge of making real change in the culture and behaviours across our trust,” he said.

The fact the trust is due to merge with Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust could offer a way forward but organisational change, by itself, was never going to be the whole answer, Mr Gordon added. “We need to define, and then tackle in an urgent and practical way, the specific problems we find,” he said.