Urgent Action Required for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

Urgent Action Required for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam In: Medical Negligence

The 5th of April 2022, saw the Care Quality Commission (CQC) release their inspection summary of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The report highlighted how there was not enough qualified staff within the Trust. As a result, the Trust was unable to keep the women and babies “safe from avoidable harm”.

Last March, the CQC warned the hospital’s Trust Chief of failings within the Jessop Wing and wider hospital services. During an investigation into the Trust six months prior,  the CQC identified serious patient safety concerns. In consequence, the Trust received an “inadequate” rating. The CQC stated that Sheffield Hospital didn’t provide “the standard of care women should be able to expect.”

The CQC’s most recent report found that the Trust had either failed to improve or deteriorated further. The report comes just days after the release of the recent Ockenden report regarding similar failings for Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

Some of the CQC’s Findings Regarding Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Include:

  • The Trust did not have effective systems in place to ensure that staff had the skills, competence, knowledge, and experience to safely care for women and their babies.
  • The Trust did not have effective systems in place for managing and responding to patient risk. Sheffield hospital did not ensure care was provided safely and effectively in line with the national guidance.
  • Staff did not always complete and update risk assessments for each patient or take timely action to minimise and mitigate risks.
  • The hospital did not manage patient safety incidents well and there were delays in the investigation. Additionally, staff did not always share incidents and lessons learned with the wider team.
  • Records were held on multiple systems and staff had to access different systems to obtain a full overview of patients’ notes which could put patients at risk.
  • There were problems with cardiotocography (CTG) – used to measure the baby’s heart rate. Problems included poor documentation which fell short of the national guidelines.
  • Staff did not always give pain relief promptly to patients in labour. Additionally, assessments were not always regular.
  • Staff did not always treat women with compassion and kindness, respect their privacy and dignity, or take account of their individual needs.
  • Staff reported difficulty getting assistance when a patient’s health deteriorated.
  • During shift changes and handovers, staff did not always include key information.
  • Staff and patients raised 25 patient safety issues from April to October 2021. Staff also reported a further two serious incidents not included in the National Reporting and Learning System. This highlights further issues where incidents had not been logged or addressed.

Read more from the full inspection report published on the 5th of April 2022.

Expert Opinion from Our Clinical Negligence Department

“ Sadly, this is not the only trust that is struggling to keep its’ patients safe from harm. It is hoped that the Ockenden report published on 30/3/22 about the Shrewsbury and Telford Trust and this CQC report will act as a wake-up call for hospitals both locally and nationally.  It must be ensured that trusts receive the help they require to implement the suggested improvements otherwise it is inevitable that further untoward incidents will occur, some of which may have tragic consequences.”

– Kate Barge, Medical Negligence Solicitor

Actions Taken by Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Following the CQC’s inspection report, Trust Chief Kirsten Major has promised to make improvements. The Trust has recruited over 500 new nurses and is to invest in more midwives to alleviate understaffing issues.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of hospitals have taken a hit due to understaffing. In Yorkshire alone, there are 5,000 vacancies for nurses. Due to declining retention rates, staff can feel burnt out. This in turn causes a vicious circle where more staff leave.

The CQC Deputy Chief Inspector for the North Ann Ford said she recognised the “enormous pressure” NHS services faced but the watchdog was concerned that the Trust’s “leadership team didn’t always have oversight and weren’t always managing the risks effectively”.

No Win, No Fee Medical Negligence Solicitors

If you are concerned about any medical treatment, you or your baby have received, please get in contact with our team of specialist medical solicitors. We will assist your claim with care and expertise, helping you receive the compensation you deserve.

Read more about Medical Negligence at AWH here.

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