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Council reacts to NHS Trust’s special measures announcement

Waltham Forest Council is demanding immediate and much-needed improvements at Whipps Cross University Hospital following a report out today (17 March) which places Barts Health NHS Trust in special measures and the rates the hospital as inadequate.

Responding to the announcement made by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Council Leader Chris Robbins said the situation would be a huge blow to the borough’s residents as the hospital is at the heart of the community and provides vital services.

He said: “Local people deserve a community hospital that offers a high standard of all-round care but it’s clear Whipps Cross has not been operating at this level.

“Residents will rightly be worried by today’s announcement, and we share their concern as we all rely on Whipps Cross. It’s absolutely vital that patients have faith in the services it offers and drastic improvements must be made without delay.

“Local leadership is needed to put this right. We want to work with the community, the CCG, Barts Trust and other healthcare providers to run a hospital which gives patients excellent care in a facility where staff feel valued and choose to work.”

The Council believes the decision to place Barts Health in special measures could open the door to the fresh start Whipps Cross desperately needs – and is calling on the Government to look at the long-term option of building a first-class new hospital on the site.

Cllr Robbins added: “It’s clear decisive and immediate action is needed to stabilise the staffing situation and improve patient services but as Whipps Cross was built in 1903 – a new state-of-the-art hospital at Whipps Cross must be at the heart of the long-term solution to deliver modern health and social care services in Waltham Forest.”

Waltham Forest CCG and the Council have for some time made concerns clear that patients at Whipps Cross have not been receiving the quality of care they deserve – but believe that the special measures announced today will give the Trust the support required to address the issues it faces. Going forwards, the Council and the CCG will continue to work closely with the Trust to make improvements that are needed.

The CQC report found that urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, end of life care, outpatients and services for children and young people at the hospital were all Inadequate. The hospital's critical care and maternity and gynaecology services were rated as Requires Improvement.

Inspectors highlighted unsafe staffing levels at Whipps Cross and low staff morale. The re-grading of nursing posts in 2013 was still affecting morale today, according to the report – a situation not helped by the fact Whipps Cross nurses do not benefit from the inner London weighting unlike nurses across the rest of Barts Health NHS Trust.

To see the report in full visit

Notes to editors

Waltham Forest Council thinks that the leadership of Whipps needs an immediate three point action plan:

  1. Immediately action to put in place and enforce basic standards of care and make the basic maintenance improvements which the report highlights.

  2. Urgent action to stabilise staffing at the hospital – to make staff feel valued and supported to prevent staff from leaving.

  3. Develop a long term plan to fix Barts group’s finances and plan a new hospital at Whipps Cross.

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