QA Hospital boss admits CQC report is difficult read but promises: we will do better

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WE CAN and will do better.

That is the message from Queen Alexandra Hospital’s chief executive Mark Cubbon following a report questioning the safety and care of patients at the Cosham site.

Mark Cubbon, the new chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Mark Cubbon, the new chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Mr Cubbon, who was appointed to the role on July 25, admitted the report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was a difficult read.

It has been published today following two inspections of the hospital in February and May where patients were seen to be at risk of avoidable harm.

But Mr Cubbon said a number of improvements had already been made in the last six months.

‘There is some very helpful feedback from the CQC in the report but I know for patients, their relatives and staff that it is a difficult read,’ he said.

I am confident that we can and will do better and the plans we have in place already are starting to show signs of improvement.

Mark Cubbon

‘We have been working since both inspections and are making sure we are already starting to put in place actions that will improve areas cited in the report.

‘I am confident that we can and will do better and the plans we have in place already are starting to show signs of improvement.

‘We have been recruiting staff in areas where there are shortages and ensuring teams can work together.

‘We have also seen very significant improvements for vulnerable patients, including those who have mental health issues. We have active, early risk assessments in our emergency department and a mental health liaison team.

‘We have also come up with an improvement plan that will be shared with patients, staff and the public showing what we aim to do.

‘It is very clear and easy to understand and, if we are going a little slower than we planned, we will be able to say what the causes are so people can have confidence in us as a trust and a hospital.’

In the last six months following the first inspection, the CQC has issued a warning notice on Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust and given it six conditions it must adhere to. The notice will only be lifted when the trust demonstrates patients are safe.

Mr Cubbon added: ‘In the four weeks since I have been here, I am convinced that we have the skills, dedication and ambition to address all the issues raised by the CQC and ensure we give the best possible care we can to every patient.

‘We have been working for the last six months to make improvements where needed and have reacted to the CQC concerns.’

One of the problems raised within the report was the leadership within QA.

It said a number of changes in roles had caused instability within the hospital. The inspector said: ‘The trust board appeared to have no real understanding of what was happening on the wards.’

The report added: ‘The non-executive directors mostly had backgrounds unrelated to healthcare.

‘Through review of the minutes of board minutes there was little recorded challenge by the non-executive directors.’

Mr Cubbon said they are looking to bring in new board members to bridge the gap found by the CQC between the board and ward staff.

He also said the appointments on the board will improve the leadership and help with implementing the improvement plan.

‘We have been recruiting to appoint three board-level jobs including two non-executive directors and a chairman,’ Mr Cubbon said.

‘We have also appointed new medical director John Knighton.

‘The new roles are happening at pace and we are hoping the appointments will be made over the next eight weeks.

‘We need to focus on the leadership team and make sure we get the leadership right and the stability in the leadership to drive forward the improvement and ensure they are sustained.

‘A strong board can help the frontline staff and give the hospital support.

‘It is about making sure we have got a team of people committed to making the improvements.’

Mr Cubbon added he also wants to work with staff to address the concerns in the report about nurses and clinical staff not feeling like they can make complaints or raise problems.

He said: ‘There are a range of things we have done and are looking to do to make sure staff feel like they can raise concerns.

‘The first is making sure we have our own systems in place to support staff when things are not happening like we expect.

‘The second thing is really engaging with staff and making sure we are spending time with them so they understand what to expect on a day-to-day basis.’