• CQC imposes conditions over concerns at Oxford University Hospitals FT’s John Radcliffe Hospital
  • Trust’s overall rating downgraded from “good” to “requires improvement”

A major teaching hospital’s operating theatres are in such poor repair they cannot always be adequately cleaned, Care Quality Commission inspectors have found.

A CQC report, published today, imposed three conditions on Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust based on concerns over John Radcliffe Hospital’s surgical services. The trust, which the CQC visited in December and January, has been downgraded from “good” to “requires improvement” overall. 

In particular, the report found: “Across [John Radcliffe Hospital’s] wards and in the main theatres the state and repair of the walls, floors, doors and work surfaces were such that adequate cleaning could not always be assured.”

Inspectors also discovered “storage in the main theatres could increase the risk of infection” as intravenous fluid was stored on the floor in boxes, while equipment was kept in open corridors. Inspectors noted there were “no processes to show if equipment was cleaned prior to being taken into theatres”.

The CQC found patients’ “privacy and dignity” was compromised as the air handling units blew the theatre door ajar. Staff were supposed to bolt the doors closed, but “this did not always happen”. One theatre room also had a “lack of an obscured view”.

The three conditions the CQC placed on the trust are: ordering it to ensure all windows in theatre doors are closed, producing an action plan to assess and reduce the risk of infection in theatres, and submitting a weekly report to the CQC to describe what actions have been taken.

The report stated: “The [surgery] service did not always control infection risk well. Staff did not always keep equipment and the premises clean. Control measures to prevent the spread of infection were not always in use in the main theatres.

“The environment was not always suitable for services provided. Areas in some of the theatres and wards were damaged and in need of repair and posed potential risks to patient and staff safety.

“Staff in the main theatre department had become disheartened that the refurbishment had not happened and had accepted the environment they worked in was substandard.”

It added that risk registers did not “adequately” reflect the risks.

However, inspectors found staff across the trust were “compassionate and kind” and there was “consistently positive” feedback from patients about how they were treated by staff.

The £1bn-turnover trust was also rated “requires improvement” for safe and well-led, and “good” for caring, effective and responsive.

In a statement, Bruno Holthof, chief executive of OUH, said: “I would like to thank all staff whose compassion and kindness has quite rightly been recognised by the Care Quality Commission…

“However, we recognise that we are only partway through a journey to improvement and this is reflected in our overall rating by the CQC as ‘requires improvement’.”

The trust has been contacted for further comment regarding John Radcliffe’s surgery services.