An investigation by the Observer has revealed that more than half of all hospitals in England, and over two-thirds in London, provide substandard care.
In one hospital’s emergency department, patients were reportedly treated in corridors, and serious illnesses such as sepsis and cancer were left undiagnosed.
The Observer analyzed the ratings of 254 general hospitals by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors, excluding those offering single services or specialized care. Seven were rated as “inadequate” and 122 as “requires improvement” – accounting for 51% of the total.
The situation was even more concerning in London, with 25 out of 37 hospitals (68%) rated as substandard.
Hillingdon hospital was among those found to be below standard, with reports of insufficient staff, unanswered telephone calls, and a lack of evidence of learning from incidents among frontline staff.
A spokesperson for the hospital’s NHS trust stated that immediate action had been taken to address the identified areas for improvement and that ongoing monitoring of the services is being conducted. The report also recognized instances of good care and treatment, as well as the compassion, kindness, and respect exhibited by the staff.
Outside the capital, York hospital also received a poor CQC rating, with patients queuing in corridors and experiencing delays in treatment due to building works. Additionally, there were concerns about infection prevention and cleanliness in certain areas.
Moreover, delays in the diagnosis of sepsis and certain types of cancer were highlighted by CQC inspections.
The hospital’s NHS trust spokesperson mentioned ongoing efforts to address the recommendations provided by the CQC, attributing some problems to temporary building works. A follow-up visit revealed improvements in the department’s environment and equipment cleanliness.
CQC inspections also discovered that just over a quarter of surgical departments in England were failing to meet standards. Furthermore, a previous report by the Observer had revealed that nearly half of all NHS hospital maternity services were substandard. The inspection regime was initiated following a government review into serious failures in NHS care in Shropshire, which resulted in the deaths or brain damage of 300 babies.
Nicola Wise, CQC’s director for secondary and specialist health care, expressed concerns about the varying quality and safety standards across hospitals. The CQC relies on a wide range of data and intelligence to monitor quality and safety, and has the authority to intervene if necessary to mitigate risks to patients.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care affirmed their collaboration with the CQC to ensure that all hospitals meet the expected standard of care. They also noted the substantial financial support being provided to enhance care and reduce waiting lists, with an allocation of up to £14.1bn over the next two years.