1. ITV Report

Hospital services in Cumbria require improvement

West Cumberland Hospital Photo: ITV Border

Hospital services in Cumbria are failing to meet the expected standards, according to inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says the NHS trust that runs Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary, and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, is making progress but still requires improvement.

It comes after an inspection of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) services in July and August 2018.

Inspectors examined urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, maternity and services for children & young people, as well as how ‘well led’ the organisation is.

As well as the hospitals in Whitehaven and Carlisle, the inspection also covered services at the Birthing Centre at Penrith Hospital.

The inspection considers whether services are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

In the CQC’s report published today, The Trust's services were rated as follows:

  • Urgent and emergency services: requires improvement
  • Medical care (including older people’s care): requires improvement
  • Services for children & young people: good
  • Surgery: good
  • Maternity: good
Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary Credit: ITV Border

Inspections at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital found that patients were waiting too long for treatments that led to "serious incidents".

Mental health assessments also "failed to meet best practice guidelines".

The report states that staff safety was risked by the high number of staff sickness, which meant that wards were not fully supported.

However, there was praise for addressing doctor shortages and outstanding practice in working to reduce delayed transfers of care.

More services are rated as ‘good’ overall and staff were said to be 'caring' throughout the Trust.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said:

I am concerned that the patient flow through Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital has deteriorated. Patients were left without treatment for too long in these hospitals’ urgent and emergency departments, which resulted in a number of serious incidents.

However, patients’ feedback was positive and we saw that staff were providing compassionate care. Everyone was clearly working hard to deliver the best care they could under pressure.

We do recognise that recruitment remains a long running challenge for the trust and I am satisfied that the leadership team are responding to the concerns we have raised. The trust has come a long way but further improvements are needed.

We will continue to monitor the trust closely and return in due course to reinspect its services.”

– Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Stephen Eames, chief executive of NCUH and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

The report shows that we have made some significant improvements since the last inspection in 2017 despite the pressures our services are under.

I said throughout the inspection that we were aiming for good and although we didn’t achieve this overall, we have made real progress which we should all be proud of.

I’d like to thank all staff once again for their continued commitment to improve services to enable us to provide the best care for people in north Cumbria.”

– Stephen Eames, chief executive, NCUH