The CQC is to place Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust into special measures following an Inadequate inspection rating.
A team of inspectors found the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, Inadequate for safety and leadership.
The Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath was rated Requires Improvement overall.
Immediately after an inspection in April, the CQC issued a Warning Notice to the trust requiring significant improvements by 30 August in three areas:
- The trust’s systems to assess, monitor, and minimise risks to people receiving care and treatment as inpatients and outpatients were not operating effectively. Patients were being put at risk because they were not being dealt with properly or in appropriate areas.
- There were ineffective systems to ensure the care, privacy and dignity of people attending both hospitals as inpatients and outpatients.
- The trust had been failing to ensure patients were seen in line with national timescales for diagnosis and treatment. In many services, too many patients were on waiting lists which failed to meet national standards.
Inspectors found that urgent and emergency services and medical care, critical care and outpatients at Royal Sussex County Hospital were inadequate for safety. Staffing levels and the skill mix in emergency departments, medical wards, critical care and midwifery were too low to ensure patients received the care they needed.
The main hospital buildings in Brighton were poorly managed, without consideration for patients’ dignity and safety. Parts of the hospital did not meet cleaning standards, the fabric of the buildings in some areas was poor, and posed a fire risk.
Some emergency patients were being accommodated in the operating theatres recovery area for up to three days – even though there were no appropriate patient toilets or facilities to allow access by relatives and carers.
Patients’ privacy, dignity and confidentiality was compromised in the outpatients department, medical wards and emergency department, where inspectors found frail elderly patients without call bells, patients being examined without the use of privacy screens and medical history discussions in close proximity of other people.
Furthermore, staff from BME backgrounds and other groups with protected characteristics reported that bullying, harassment and discrimination were rife in the organisation.
Professor Edward Baker, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “It is clear that the problems we have found on this inspection go right through Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. It is a matter of some concern that we found there was a distinct disconnect between the trust board and staff working in clinical areas, with very little insight by the board into the main safety and risk issues, and seemingly little appetite to resolve them.
“For some time the trust has been failing to meet national standards on waiting and treatment times, there were high numbers of cancelled appointments and operations, and delays in providing diagnostic results.”
He added: “As a matter of priority the trust needs to address the longstanding issues surrounding its people policies and implement an immediate programme of change to improve the culture of the organisation. It must effectively address the allegations of bullying and discrimination that we have found.
“It is now the board’s duty to take charge of the issues we have identified and begin to provide the high quality sustainable leadership that is required to deliver the necessary improvements.”