Health regulator Monitor made the move after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found care at the Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HWPHT) was ‘inadequate’ and the trust was not well-led.
During the inspection in February, inspectors found ‘a lack of a genuine safety culture’ at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, and staff were following national and local guidelines, 27% of which were out of date.
It comes after the hospital was rated ‘inadequate’ in inspections in May and October last year, and was in breach of regulations with six warning notices issued.
The inspection report, published today (Thursday), adds in the maternity and family planning unit there ‘was an overall prevailing culture of bullying and lack of joined-up working across the multidisciplinary team’. It adds incidents were not always being reported and ‘there were accusations of improper downgrading of their severity alongside suggestions of defensive practice’.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the chief inspector of hospitals, said: “We know that Wexham Park Hospital has had a long history of problems – and the legacy of these problems is all too apparent in the safety culture, the staffing levels, and the overflowing wards.
“There are some positives – notably in critical care and in the children’s department – but there is a lot more to do, and the staff can’t go on firefighting, reacting to the latest pressures, without a clear vision about the hospital’s future direction.
“This cannot go on. It is clear to me that the trust leadership, in its present form, is not equipped to bring in the deep and long-lasting changes that are needed to turn round Wexham Park Hospital, which is why I’ve recommended that the trust should be placed in special measures.”
‘Inadequate’ ratings were given in the medical care, surgery and maternity and family planning categories at Wexham Park, with accident and emergency, end-of-life care and outpatients given ‘requires improvement’ ratings.
The intensive and critical care unit and the services for children and young people were rated as ‘good’.
Grant MacDonald, the acting chief executive at Heatherwood and Wexham Park said: “We fully accept the findings of this CQC review and welcome the help and support that we will now receive.
“We sincerely apologise to all of our patients and local communities for failing to provide the level of service they deserve. We are committed to tackling all the issues in today’s report with a structured and planned approach that will embed good practice and consistently deliver high quality care.
“Since the last CQC report four months ago, we have done a great deal to tackle the issues raised and clearly we must now do more.
“The health regulator, Monitor requires the Trust to urgently implement an action plan to prevent future poor care and this is now our main priority.
“We have been in discussion with Frimley Park NHS Foundation Trust with a view to that Trust acquiring us to become part of a larger sustainable entity. This potential acquisition would offer greater certainty around the Trust’s future and make it easier to recruit and retain good staff. We will continue to pursue this with pace and vigour.”