• CQC finds improvements to staff culture in Wirral University Teaching Hospital FT’s emergency department
  • Report notes improved working atmosphere and consistently good leadership in ED

The Care Quality Commission has observed improvements to culture at an accident and emergency department at the centre of a major bullying scandal. 

Last year, an independent report, released to HSJ, into the Arrowe Park emergency department run by Wirral University Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust revealed a bullying culture and “tribal divisions” between staff

Now, the CQC has reported the trust has made improvements to the “working atmosphere and peer support culture among its A&E staff”. The regulator, which inspected the A&E in March this year, also noted effective working between consultants and nursing staff and improved working culture which “empowered staff and promoted peer challenge”.

However, inspectors raised concerns over staff’s attitude towards patients and their families, and warned of “persistent challenging working conditions and a lack of communication with the senior team”.

In one instance, a relative approached a member of staff and said their family member’s room was dirty. The staff member shrugged their shoulders and said: “Well it should be clean, if it’s not someone will clean it tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, the Liverpool Echo reported further allegations about bullying in the A&E last week, including reports of “witch hunts” being carried out when complaints were made to find out who raised them.

The leadership at the trust, which was rated “inadequate” for well-led in a 2018 inspection, has been overhauled recently. Chair Michael Carr and chief executive David Allison, who were the subject of serious allegations raised by trust executives, resigned in December 2017 and February 2018 respectively. 

Last June, the trust appointed Jeanelle Holmes as its new chief executive. Ms Holmes was one of the four executives who blew the whistle to NHS Improvement over Mr Carr and Mr Allison.

Other findings from the CQC report included:

  • ED was not always responsive to high-risk patients;
  • Patients were regularly accommodated in corridors for extensive periods; and
  • Staff demonstrated resilience and compassion when trying to help patients who experienced significant delays.