Addenbrooke's Hospital placed in special measures

Health watchdog finds Cambridge University NHS Hospital Trust to be ‘inadequate,’ with one eye patient having to wait 51 weeks for an appointment

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One of the largest NHS trusts in England, which runs world-renowned teaching hospital Addenbrooke’s, has been placed in special measures by the health watchdog Monitor.

The actions were taken after Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals, was found to be ‘inadequate’ in a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

A review of the trust carried out in April this year identified “significant capacity issues” and long delays in specialties such as ophthalmology and dermatology meant that wards were “struggling to cope.”

Chief among the problem areas identified by the CQC were outpatient services, staff shortages and “disconnected governance” between clinical divisions and the board.

Writing in the report, published today (22 September), the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, professor Sir Mike Richards highlights that routine surgery admissions were cancelled due to a shortage of available beds and lack of staff pressure on services, including outpatient and diagnostic imaging, and maternity and gynaecology.

The CQC’s report highlights a “significant backlog” of patients waiting for ophthalmology services. One patient is reported as having to wait 51 weeks for a first appointment, while another 20 waited for 41 weeks. The health watchdog goes on to highlight that 516 eye patients had to wait more than 18 weeks for a referral.

However, the report also found that staff were caring and “did everything they could for patients in their care,” as well as highlighting effective multidisciplinary working across the trust.

Responding to the CQC’s finding, chair of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Jane Ramsey, said: “I would like to say sorry to our patients for a lack of effective systems and processes across our Trust, which has led to the Care Quality Commission today rating our hospitals as inadequate.

“We take this, and being placed in ‘special measures’ by our regulator Monitor, very seriously. Part of Monitor’s enforcement action means we have a number of clearly defined quality, financial and governance failings to rectify as soon as possible.

“We will take rapid action to address these concerns and maintain our record of safety and high-quality care.”

In 2014, Addenbrooke’s was among the top performing hospitals in the country. But former chief executive of the hospital, Dr Keith McNeil, resigned earlier this month in the wake of “very serious challenges for the hospital” and a growing financial deficit.

Cambridge University NHS Hospital Trust, formerly Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust, was one of 26 trusts responsible for half of the national year on year growth in patients waiting more than four hours in A&E in 2014/15.

Monitor has estimated that the trust is overspending by an average of £1.2m per week, with the trust predicting a deficit this year of £64m.