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KIMS Hospital in Maidstone told some of its services are unsafe in CQC report

By Chris Price

An independent hospital that opened just less than two years ago has been told by a regulator some of the services it provides are unsafe.

KIMS Hospital, at the Kent Medical Campus near Junction 7 of the M20, was given a “requires improvement” rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) because of a “lack of robust governance”.

The CQC’s damming report, which the hospital’s lawyers are contesting, said low occupancy levels posed risks to patients as staff were not able to maintain their skills in caring for seriously unwell people.

KIMS Hospital in Maidstone

KIMS Hospital in Maidstone

It also claimed the hospital website “offers a huge range of services and treatments it cannot provide safely and creates an image that is inaccurate”.

The report said a patient had suffered a burn as a result of a surgeon “being unfamiliar with equipment”, while “learning from complaints and incidents was localised and the organisation missed opportunities for wider sharing of learning”.

It highlighted the dedicated cancer care suite and chemotherapy service, which it said was a single haematologist with practising privileges.

“The hospital is not resourced to provide chemotherapy safely,” the report said.

But the regulator rated the hospital good for effectiveness of its services and care.

KIMS Hospital staff struggled to maintain skills because of its low occupancy levels, according to the CQC

KIMS Hospital staff struggled to maintain skills because of its low occupancy levels, according to the CQC

It said staff enjoyed their work and ensured people were well looked after.

The hospital’s radiology department, cath labs and facilities management were noted as being outstanding.

“The very low occupancy levels of the hospital resulted in a risk that staff could not maintain their skill and knowledge base..." - Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC

The findings were published following three visits in September.

One was an unannounced inspection.

Between April 2014 and March 2015, the hospital admitted 771 inpatients and 1,812 day patients. There were 2,486 visits to theatre.

Around a quarter of all patients at the hospital were funded by the NHS.

In his summary, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “The very low occupancy levels of the hospital resulted in a risk that staff could not maintain their skill and knowledge base.

“This was particularly true of critical care staff and those caring for patients having complex surgery.”

The CQC acknowledged most issues were known to management and steps had been taken to introduce changes.

KIMS Hospital chief executive Simon James

KIMS Hospital chief executive Simon James

Hospital managers said actions were already being taken to improve procedures.

A statement from chief executive Simon James and chief nurse Jackie Groom said they welcomed the report, and KIMS was one of the first independent hospitals to be reviewed by the CQC.

“Requires improvement as an overall rating is a realistic and fair judgement given the relative immaturity of our systems and processes..." - Simon James and Jackie Groom, KIMS Hospital

They said: “Requires improvement as an overall rating is a realistic and fair judgement given the relative immaturity of our systems and processes.

“We are pleased the hospital has been rated good across several of the key domains, and recognise this inspection and report has provided us with further expert guidance to support our ongoing improvement plans as the business continues to grow.

“Patient safety is our number one priority, and we work with outstanding and highly experienced consultants, physicians and clinical staff.

"We are passionate about delivering high-quality care, and we are naturally disappointed with some of the regulator’s findings and took immediate steps to address these.”

A review is being undertaken and an improvement plan will be published on the hospital’s website.

The statement said anyone with concerns could phone 01622 237746.

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