PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission has announced it is using its investigation powers to look into the delivery of emergency care services by the foundation. The investigation is underway.

The investigation will focus on the emergency care pathway and will explore whether there are problems in the trust’s procedures which need to be addressed in order to achieve future sustainable improvements. 

Debbie Westhead, CQC North West regional lead, said: “This investigation will allow us to take an in-depth look at the care patients receive as they enter the hospitals for emergency care and at what happens to them subsequently.

“It aims to help the trust make sure it is providing sustainable good quality care. It should reassure local people that we are aware of problems in the trust and seeking more information to help the trust take the correct action to mitigate risks to patients.

“I’d also like to stress that local people should continue to use accident and emergency services if they need to. If we felt there were immediate threats to the safety of patients, we would take immediate action.”

 CQC will work with Monitor, the NHS foundation trust regulator to ensure that any findings can be addressed with the appropriate regulatory action, and will be seeking the co-operation of local stakeholders such as the strategic health authority and primary care trusts.

The investigation follows concerns already highlighted by both regulators in relation to maternity services, according to a statement from the CQC. It added: “The trust and its partners are taking steps to address these concerns, so these services are not part of the investigation, although we are closely monitoring progress and will not hesitate to take further enforcement action if patient safety is compromised.”

An inspection of accident and emergency services in December revealed similar concerns about trust systems and processes to those found in an inspection of maternity services in July, which resulted in CQC serving a warning notice on the trust. These included doubts about the ability of the trust to proactively identify and mitigate risk.

The CQC will be seeking the views of staff, patients, members of the public and stakeholders during the course of the investigation.  Details on contacting the CQC will be publicised locally.

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