Another NHS Trust con

Barts NHS Health Trust has been put into special measures after Care Quality Commission inspectors found serious problems at its Whipps Cross hospital, including poor A&E care, a lack of staff, poor morale and a culture of bullying and harassment.

It is not for me here to comment on the report; what interests me, as always in this blog, is the response of the institution.

Those of you who have read my earlier blogs on this subject will not be surprised at the response. The chief executive, chief nurse and chair of the Trust are resigning – and in the case of the first two got their resignations out of the way in mid-February.

That enabled Peter Morris, who is actually staying on until his successor is appointed, to state that “Barts Health is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of every one of its patients. This report describes services that fall a long way short of what we aspire to. We are very sorry for the failings identified by the CQC in some of our services at Whipps Cross and we know the trust has a big challenge ahead.”

“Much has been done but we recognise that more needs to be done. We will take all the necessary steps to raise quality standards at Whipps Cross. The CQC has made clear that this report is in large measure the result of what inspectors were told by our staff.”

First there is the general comment (the usual attempt to broaden the issue away from the specific allegation). Then there is the semi-apology – though it is a little more precise than usual as it mentions failings. Of course it says “the” failings rather than “our” failings and there is the vague use of “we” which ensures that no individual admits accountability.

Then there is the assertion that “much has been done” but that “more needs to be done.” Those phrases or some form of them appears quite frequently. Take the response of Norfolk/Suffolk NHS Federation when it too was heavily criticised. CEO Michael Scott said that there was “no complacency on our part about the need to continue to deliver improvements, while its chairman Gary Page said that “the issues raised by the CQC report reinforces what we, as a Board, have been clear on and are already working to remedy.”

And finally there are of course the management changes (all of course taken for totally different reasons) so that the new team will be able to blame the problems on their predecessors.

We just have to see what version of this formula the next trust put into special measures decides to peddle.


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