BREAKING NEWS: East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is branded ‘inadequate’ by CQC inspectors in report


Health inspectors have heavily criticised service provision at the Conquest Hospital.

A report published today (Friday, March 27) by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the hospital’s maternity, surgery and outpatients services were ‘inadequate’.

I have always been honest about the fact that it isn’t an overnight job to change the culture of a large complex organisation such as ours and that there is always more that we can and want to do

Darren Grayson, chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Inspectors made an unannounced inspection of the hospital on The Ridge, together with its sister site, Eastbourne DGH, yesterday (Thursday) and on Wednesday.

The health watchdog branded East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, as ‘inadequate’.

An inspection took place in September last year before the CQC returned this week to assess the progress the trust had made addressing concerns raised.

The CQC said in most cases, a rating of ‘inadequate’ would lead to the Chief Inspector of Hospitals recommending that the trust be put in special measures.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “When we inspected East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in September, we were extremely concerned at the disconnect we identified between the senior team and the staff working on the frontline. We saw no sign of a clear vision and strategy and a lack of response to concerns raised by staff. We had specific serious concerns about maternity, surgery and outpatients.

“Our recent inspection indicates there have been improvements in important areas for patients, but I am still concerned about cultural and leadership issues at the trust. I will not be making a judgment about special measures until we have fully assessed the results of our most recent inspection.

“We, alongside our partners will continue to keep a close eye on the trust and will inspect again in due course to assess whether or not adequate progress is being made.”

During the inspection last September a team of inspectors and specialists including doctors, nurses, managers and experts by experience visited Eastbourne DGH and the Conquest. The trust’s community healthcare services for children and young people were also inspected.

The CQC rates trusts on five key questions that reflect the care that patients have a right to expect. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was rated ‘inadequate’ for ‘Safe’ and ‘Well led’, ‘requires improvement’ for ‘Effective’ and ‘Responsive’ and ‘good’ for ‘Caring’.

The CQC did praise the trust for its clinical leadership and consultant presence in critical care and the introduction of a handheld electronic system for recording patients‘ observations.

Responding to the reports, chief executive Darren Grayson, said: “We are incredibly disappointed to receive the inadequate rating from the CQC, although we welcome the feedback from its inspection this week that improvements have already been made since they inspected last September.

“The reports reflect the journey we are on as an organisation and the immense changes we have made over recent years. Despite change being tough for us all, this has already resulted in significant improvements to the way we care for patients, and ultimately more successful treatment of their illnesses and conditions.

“It is testament to our excellent frontline and support staff that they are recognised as delivering compassionate care to the thousands of patients who need our services every day.

“I have always been honest about the fact that it isn’t an overnight job to change the culture of a large complex organisation such as ours and that there is always more that we can and want to do. We have not stood still in the many months that we have been waiting for the CQC to publish their reports. I am confident that we will continue to address the concerns that the CQC found when they visited back in September 2014 with pace and vigour. I am determined that we can and will work together as an organisation to make improvements for patients and staff.”