'Several issues' found by inspectors at Rotherham Hospital

Rotherham General Hospital.
Rotherham General Hospital.

Hospital services in Rotherham have been labelled 'in need of improvement' after a 'number of issues' were found by inspectors.

Care watchdog the Care Quality Commission has rated the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust as 'requires improvement'.

Inspectors visited Rotherham Hospital and community healthcare services provided by the trust over four days during February, with a further unannounced inspection in March.

A separate review of health services for children was carried out at the same time.

The inspectors found community services for children were 'inadequate' and health visitors and school nurses' caseloads were 'unmanageable'.

It also said planned staffing levels were not being achieved, affecting staff morale.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

“It is clear that The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has a number of issues it has to address. 

“Across the trust we saw many examples that showed that staff were caring, compassionate and treated patients with dignity and respect, even when they were working under significant pressure.

"Planned staffing levels were not being achieved on many wards and this was affecting staff morale and staff retention rates. 

“We found safety within community services for children, young people and families to be Inadequate.

"The trust was making progress towards increasing the numbers of health visitors and school nurses, but staff felt their caseloads were unmanageable. Inspectors raised concern that information was not always effectively shared between teams regarding children who may be at risk.

"Our inspectors have reported their findings separately in a further report.  

“The trust has acknowledged the importance of the challenges it faces and I believe that it has the potential to improve services. We will return in due course to check that all the improvements we have identified have been made.

"While there are a number of challenges ahead, the executive team displayed a proactive approach during the inspection and took immediate action to address some of the issues we identified.

“In the interim the trust must make sure that robust systems are in place to ensure that incidents are reported and that feedback is provided back to staff. The trust must also ensure that the cross organisational learning from incidents, and complaint investigations is implemented and monitored to prevent recurrence and secure service improvements for patients.”

The systems in place to manage risk were not universally robust. In some services, staff were not always reporting incidents which meant that senior managers did not have an accurate picture of the risks across the organisation as a whole. 

Some wards at Rotherham Hospital did not meet national guidance on same sex accommodation which requires segregated facilities for men and women. The trust has subsequently taken action to address this issue. 

The inspection found a number of areas for improvement, including:

--All staff must receive appropriate training and development so that they are able to assess the capacity and best interests of patients in line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and deprivation of liberty safeguards.

--There must be sufficient numbers of appropriately- skilled staff on duty to meet the needs of all patients.

--Incidents must be reported and investigated in a timely manner, with learning shared with all staff.

-Children and young people using the short break service must be protected against the risks associated with the unsafe use and management of medicines and the risks of acquiring a healthcare associated infection.

--There must be effective liaison between the contraception and sexual health service and the school nursing service about individual young people who may be at risk of abuse.