Mayday! Mayday! Croydon hospital among the country’s worst

Well, if you weren’t gloomy enough about life in Croydon already, as shown by the Prime Minister’s “happiness index” published yesterday, today’s news about the standards of our country’s hospitals, and Mayday in particular, will really cheer you up. Not.

Mayday sign left to rightOne in four NHS hospitals is a cause for concern over the quality or safety of the care it provides to patients,the government’s hospital watchdog reported today. And Croydon is right down there with the worst of them, rated a “Band 1”.

“Performance in some areas is so inadequate that it poses a risk or an elevated risk to patients,” was how the Care Quality Commission‘s national findings were reported today.

Our local hospital’s reputation has long seen it nicknamed “May-die”, and no amount of re-branding can shake that off now that the CQC has bracketed it with 43 other hospitals where there is serious concern about aspects of care provided.

This dire rating comes while local politicos are embroiled in horse-trading over whose borough’s hospital is to lose its accident and emergency department and maternity wards – Sutton or Croydon.

The MPs – Tom Brake, former health minister Paul Burstow and our very own Gavin Barwell – are all colleagues in the ConDem government that is meanwhile also privatising our NHS piece by piece. Barwell is arguing that Croydon should be spared any department cuts at the expense of St Helier, which is in Brake and Burstow’s Sutton.

Any rational person who is familiar with the medical needs of this part of south London would want both hospitals to continue to provide a full range of services, especially A&E, but our ConDem MPs have found themselves in an NHS version of Sophie’s Choice.

The really bad news for Band 1-rated Mayday is that, as far as the CQC is concerned, St Helier is rated a top-of-the-class Band 6.

The CQC examined 150 national, NHS-wide measures of quality and safety of care in a new assessment system it calls “intelligent monitoring”. It then put all 161 hospital trusts into one of six bands, each of which includes those deemed a higher or lower risk, on the basis of the evidence.

Croydon is one of 24 trusts in Band 1 and 20 in Band 2, which are the only two categories the CQC is concerned about. The 24 include the 11 trusts already in special measures, those that are already being investigated by the CQC inspection regime it has developed after the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal.

The criteria the CQC looked at included waiting times for treatment in A&E, after referral by a GP and for cancer; patients’ trust in the doctors and nurses; rates of hospital-acquired infections and stroke patients scanned within an hour of arrival; patient safety incidents and “never” events (incidents such as amputating the wrong limb that should never happen); management of patients’ pain; and how much help was provided to someone to help them eat their meal.

Taking trusts’ scores in those 150 areas, CQC has categorised Band 1 as including those at which performance is 7.5 per cent below the norm. At the trusts in Band 6, such as St Helier where Gavin Barwell would like to see its A&E unit closed, performance is typically 2 per cent better than the norm.

The Patients Association said the CQC’s concerns about the 44 trusts were hugely worrying but also “not a major surprise”. Katherine Murphy, the Patients’ Association chief executive, said, “We know from our work that elements of poor care are widespread in the NHS.” Murphy is an ex-NHS nurse and manager

“We don’t think there’s any hospital that’s providing 100 per cent high-quality, safe care. Calls to our helpline tell us that things like misdiagnosis, cancelled operations and poor care in hospital, especially elderly patients not being cared for with the compassion and dignity they deserve, happen frequently in hospitals all over the country. This problem is so endemic in the NHS,” she said.

As a Band 1 hospital, Croydon has been prioritised for inspection by the CQC.

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1 Response to Mayday! Mayday! Croydon hospital among the country’s worst

  1. davidcallam says:

    Superficially this is worrying. But we need to know the nature of the measures used to grade the various trusts before we can judge whether Croydon University Hospital is really a must-to-avoid.
    I suspect there may be problems in particular departments. Unfortunately by the time we find out which ones, hospital management will be able to say that ‘the data are out of date and in any case lessons have been learnt’. That’s the standard PR response, I think.
    In the meantime, if you’re worried, ask your GP to refer you to a different hospital. Guys is just 20 minutes on the train from East Croydon.

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