Addenbrooke’s placed in special measures

Catherine Maguire 22 September 2015

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been placed in special measures, following a report by the Care Quality Commission which branded the trust inadequate.

The Trust, comprising the Addenbrooke's, Rosie and Saffron Walden Community hospitals, is one of the largest in the UK, offering specialist services in opthalmology, neurosurgery, metabolic diseases, oncology and specialised paediatric medicine. With around 1,100 beds, the trust is a major healthcare hub in the east of England, providing district general hospital services for patients from Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire. It is widely recognised as a world-class teaching hospital. 

The CQC found that there were significant staff shortages, leading to a reliance on bank and agency staff that did not have the appropriate skills to effectively complete the tasks at hand. The report also highlighted that the pressures on surgical services were such that operations were frequently cancelled and patients were waiting for more than the target of 18 weeks for treatment. Poor follow-ups were also singled out for particular criticism within the opthalmology and dermatology services. A poor midwife-to-birth ratio was also noted.

The report praised the hospital’s "caring staff who did everything they could for patients in their care", as well as an "efficient and effective" emergency department. It was not sufficient, however, to stop the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, from recommending the safeguard of special measures for the Trust.

The findings come eight months after a major incident was declared at Addenbrooke's Hospital, when non-emergency surgery and procedures were cancelled and off-duty staff were called in.

In a joint statement, Chair of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Jane Ramsey and Acting Chief Executive David Wherret apologised for "a lack of effective systems and processes across our Trust", and reassured patients that "they will be in safe hands, receive outstanding care from compassionate staff and be treated by leading clinicians".