'Let down by a culture of fear' - NHS Trust running Sussex hospitals stripped of outstanding status

  • WATCH ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw reporting from Sussex.

The NHS Trust that runs hospitals in Sussex has been stripped of its 'outstanding' status by its health watchdog and has been downgraded to 'requires improvement'.

The Care Quality Commission sent in inspectors after whistleblowing concerns were raised by staff themselves.

There are changes, too, for individual hospitals with Brighton's Royal Sussex County going from 'good' to 'inadequate' and the Princess Royal at Haywards Heath going from 'good' to 'requires improvement'.

Inspectors said staff and patients were "being let down" by senior leaders who appeared "out of touch" with what was happening on wards and in clinical areas.

And staff who felt bullied or harassed felt pressured into "making unsafe decisions" amid a culture of fear.

The Royal Sussex is currently being rebuilt at a cost of £500 million. The Chief Executive Dr George Findlay says the trust has already made significant improvements since the CQC inspection.

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, which represents patients, said: "This latest CQC rating is clearly disappointing for patients but also all staff who work incredibly hard to ensure that patients receive excellent care.

"Of particular concern is that services at the Royal Sussex County are not considered to be safe although patients should be reassured that the care offered across the Trust has been rated as 'outstanding'".

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