Alder Hey's high-risk rating ‘has cost hospital millions’ and angered its bosses

The Trust's chairman claims the CQC ranking has threatened a £4m donation for essential equipment

A furious row over millions in lost donations and a PR “disaster” has erupted between Alder Hey Children's Hospital and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), after a damning risk rating angered hospital bosses.

In a new system to pinpoint areas of particular concern, the healthcare regulator recently introduced intelligent monitoring data which draws on information such as performance reports and the experiences of patients and staff.

And Alder Hey was placed in Band 1, a “potentially high risk” category.

But the rating came just days after the hospital had launched a major charity appeal last October.

And correspondence released in response to a Freedom of Information request reveals how Sir David Henshaw, chairman of Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, told David Behan, chief executive of CQC, the publication of the rating was a “public relations disaster given that the week before we had launched our £30m charity appeal.”

In the letter, dated 1 November 2013, he added: “A sponsor who was about to donate £4m for essential equipment in our new hospital may not now proceed given the coverage.”

This had left the staff “bitterly disappointed at this, but also more fundamentally, at the huge damage to our reputation caused by the publication of inaccurate information.” Sir David demanded “at the very least” that the CQC “remove the Trust from the band we are in and most importantly, apologise for the reputational damage caused.”

But in a reply, dated 14 November, Mr Behan defended the new system as “transparent and suitable for its purpose.” Rather than apologising, he concluded: “We will not take any action or making [sic] any amendments to the indicators or associated risk banding for Alder Hey.”

The row continued today, with a spokesperson for Alder Hey stating the “disappointment and surprise” at the rating “given that none of the indicators flag any concerns whatsoever about patient safety or quality of care.”

They added: “We have shared with the CQC our concerns regarding aspects of the methodology behind this new rating system and continue to work closely with them on this.”

The spokesperson insisted: “There are no current concerns regarding patient safety at Alder Hey.”

As for the hospital's charity appeal, the suggested £4m donation has failed to materialise, and barely £1milion has been raised in the six months since it was launched.

The CQC is standing by the rating it has given Alder Hey. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Having reviewed the Trust's concerns, we remain confident that our data supported placing the trust in band 1. The system is built on a set of indicators that look at a range of information including patient experience, staff experience and performance.” They added: “Alder Hey remains in band 1 as a result of additional areas where risk has been identified, specifically results from the recent NHS Staff Survey and referral to treatment times.”

A report published last month found Alder Hey “potentially unsafe” after it failed to meet four out of five safety and quality standards during an unannounced CQC inspection in December. It revealed how there had been “near misses” and “very worrying” staff shortages.

Peter Walsh from the patient safety charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) said: “It is a great shame if a potential sponsor for Alder Hey has dropped out, because organisations which come out high on the CQC risk assessment could do with more, not less help. However, the trust should get on with dealing with the identified issues of concern rather than having a tiff with the CQC.”

And Dr Kim Holt, from campaign group Patients First, commented: “Rather than worry about the reputation of the organisation, what Alder Hey need to focus on is patient safety.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links