A major hospital at the centre of the latest NHS maternity scandal has been served with a warning notice by the care watchdog over its culture and governance.
An internal briefing to staff at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust on Wednesday, seen by The Independent, revealed the Care Quality Commission had issued the formal warning to the trust after an inspection of the hospital at the end of July.
A CQC warning notice is served when a regulator finds systemic problems affecting an entire trust or service that it believes could result in patient harm.
The trust is already facing an inquiry into poor maternity care at the trust after an investigation by The Independent highlighted dozens of deaths and babies left with brain damage as a result of negligence, with families accusing the trust of trying to cover-up serious incidents over many years.
Whistleblowing midwives have warned the service is still unsafe today with the trust struggling to fill more than 70 midwifery vacancies.
It has also been forced to cancel operations after a surge in Covid patients in recent weeks and in July the CQC threatened the trust with regulatory action over fears of “crowding” in its A&E department and patients being treated on corridors.
In a message to staff on Wednesday, the trust chairman Eric Morton and acting chief executive and chief financial officer Rupert Egginton revealed the CQC concerns.
The trust’s chief executive, Tracy Taylor, has been off sick since the start of July, following a serious Covid infection.
Mr Morton and Mr Eggington said the CQC had visited the trust between the 26 and 28 of July to examine the leadership of the trust.
“We expect their final report in September/October, but we were issued with a warning notice requiring us to take action to improve corporate and clinical governance and oversight of risk, and to ensure a more positive open and supportive culture across the organisation.
“We accept the comments from the CQC, which will ensure we can lead our organisation as effectively as possible and provide the best care we can to our patients.”
They said the CQC inspectors have praised staff for their openness and honesty suggesting the issues lie with the very senior managers at the organisation.
The email added: “We must now take this opportunity to listen to our leaders and our staff, create a plan and move forward with making the right improvements – something we are absolutely committed to doing.”
They said discussions were already underway with department managers to understand the problems and that these will be widened out to other staff in coming weeks.
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