“The report of the Care Quality Commission into West Lane Hospital is damning and highlights very serious failings.
Patients and their families need urgent reassurances and they will want to know that all the measures that can be taken are being taken to provide the safe caring environment patients need but has clearly been absent.
Tragically two young patients have died whilst in the care of West Lane. Of course, the medical conditions of patients present immense challenges but this hospital has crashed from a “good” rating to “inadequate” between two CQC reporting periods. The families and the public have a right to know what has gone so drastically wrong in such a short space of time. Obviously given these tragic deaths, there will be a number of formal inquiries and ultimately I expect there to be full inquests in both cases, but the conclusion that safe care is not being delivered, rings very loud alarm bells.
I have said previously that staff turn up to do their very best but their task appears to have been completely compounded by poor management in terms of rostering of staff, lack of availability of alarms, weaknesses in record keeping and critically, in monitoring patients and so on. It seems staff members themselves were complaining about the weaknesses in the systems and the management of the patients and it beggars belief these warnings weren’t heeded.
Parents, families and friends of patients and the all the staff at the hospital will be totally devastated by these events but for the safe functioning of the hospital right now, the CQC, the Hospital Trust and NHS England all have to take continuing responsibility on a day to day basis for ensuring the safety of patients. The Secretary of State for Health will need to take whatever steps are necessary. I would be extremely worried if there was any attempt to lay this at the door of individual members of staff as the CQC report makes it clear there has been a systemic breakdown in processes, correct staffing, monitoring and supervision.
A huge amount of work is necessary to turn this situation around and whilst I hope this is achievable, the Trust will have to consider all the options available to them to provide the safest possible environment for the patients.”