Published: 00:01, 20 August 2017
A private hospital slammed by healthcare inspectors as being unsafe is showing signs of improvement — but there’s still work to be done.
That is the message following the latest inspection at BMI Fawkham Manor Hospital in Longfield, which was rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year in a damning report.
Five months on and the score has increased to ‘requires improvement’, with inspectors noting the progress made but still raising a number of concerns.
The updated report, based on visits in April, focuses on the hospital’s surgeries, which include orthopaedics, gynaecology, urology, ophthalmics, gastroenterology and plastic surgery.
Senior members of surgery staff were given time off following the previous report to reflect and receive clinical supervision and mentoring from staff from other BMI hospitals.
But in a letter attached at the front of the new report, Professor Edward Baker, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said “not all consultants have learnt lessons from serious incidents to help prevent recurrences”.
Among the incidents noted was one in which a patient was not marked before being put under anaesthetic for surgery. Normally, surgeons use marker pens to clearly highlight the required point of incision.
“This improved rating is an important milestone on our journey to ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’", BMI spokesman
Professor Baker also said there were still signs of “weakness in governance”, and recorded concerns such as medicine-fridge temperatures not being consistently recorded, waste bins not being labelled, and operations being cancelled at late notice.
There was also no step-free wheelchair access to baths or showers, and staff had little knowledge of providing support for patients with learning difficulties.
Knee-replacement operations were specifically mentioned as having outcomes that were “significantly worse than other similar hospitals”, and there was “insufficient assurance” about the suitability of some surgical assistants.
However, the hospital, which has 30 beds, was praised for some notable improvements, having been warned of further action if there were none within six months of the previous report.
These include safeguarding patients from abuse and improper treatment, and keeping wards and equipment clean, both of which were heavily criticised previously.
Staff were also praised for their commitment and the quality of their training, with patient feedback also still good.
More than £250,000 has been spent to enhance the hospital’s operating theatres, with further investment planned.
A BMI spokesman said: “This improved rating is an important milestone on our journey to ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’, and we would like to thank our patients and GPs for their continued valued support.
“While we are pleased that the inspectors saw the improvements we have made to our procedures, our building and our new management team, we remain focused on our action plan and on providing the best experience for all our patients.”
Despite the improvements, some insurance providers have stopped funding treatments at the hospital, including Bupa.
Children and young people are also not treated anymore due to concerns raised in the previous CQC report.
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