Hospital boss slams ‘unfair’ CQC report

Andrew Foster
Andrew Foster
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Wigan borough’s hospital trust has raised concerns about the “negativity” of its latest inspection.

Chief Executive Andrew Foster said he has shared a number of grievances with health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about the inspection process and the quality of the draft and final reports.

It comes after the hospital boss revealed in a report to Wigan Council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee that the Trust had challenged 421 factual inaccuracies and nine ratings with the CQC prior to the final document being published in June with an overall rating of “good”.

The Trust remains unhappy with a number of the individual ratings and the overall balance of the final report.

Mr Foster said: “The CQC did their inspection in December last year and sent us the draft report in March and we were given 10 working days to respond to that. In that time we came up with more than 400 challenges to accuracy.

“Some of these things would be quite trivial; a figure or a date slightly wrong, for example, but others were more significant and with the sheer volume of inaccuracies, we were quite critical of that, we felt that chipped a degree of negativity into the report.”

Of the nine rating challenges the Trust submitted to the CQC, only one was overturned, meaning the medical care at Leigh Infirmary was rated as “good” instead of “requiring improvement”.

“We were disappointed only one was accepted and we were not convinced that the CQC had actually gone through it with a fine tooth comb all of the corrections we had submitted and what impact that would have had on the ratings,” Mr Foster said.

“They weren’t able to give us evidence that they had thoroughly done so. They said they had but they couldn’t demonstrate it.

“It is when you see the report, where you get something like 30 per cent positives and 70 per cent negatives, which doesn’t seem to me to reflect the true position. And, as I say, the negatives they talk about seem to be relatively small input measures.

“For example, they talk about finding one blood pressure machine with a label that didn’t show it had been checked recently. But we actually have 10,000 medical devices which are properly checked and it just feels like an imbalance.

“I don’t think the report gave due credit to many of the outstanding things this organisation achieved. That’s where we were disappointed.”

Mr Foster also raised concerns about the inspection itself, claiming governors were asked to leave a public event by the CQC and that there was not an expert with experience present during the inspection visit.

“They said they would not change the report now, it is nearly a year old this so what we wanted to do was to make sure there was a degree of learning on both sides,” he told the Evening Post.

“We mustn’t forget that the report gave us an overall rating of good which puts us into the upper echelons of hospitals and it did pick out two services; end of life care and the Thomas Linacre Centre as being outstanding.”

In response, the CQC has defended the fairness of its report. A spokesman said: “We are satisfied that the findings of the report are correct. Consistency and fairness are core principles that underpin our work. To achieve this, we apply strong quality control and assurance processes during the writing of our reports and the ratings we award to services following our inspections.

“This includes giving providers the opportunity to share their views on the factual accuracy of our inspection reports before they are published.

“The provider has the right to request a review of the rating. We are in discussion with (WWL) and will inspect again to assess whether the improvements which are required to provide safe and effective care in line with the regulations have been made.”