West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is demanding a public inquiry into Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust after the release of a scathing and damning report that compares the organisation’s culture and failings of patient care and staff in pursuing foundation trust status to those of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Rosie Cooper MP believes the report ‘Quality, safety and management assurance review at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust’ by Capsticks Solicitors LLP are all the more damaging given these events took place post-Francis Inquiry.
The findings of the Capsticks Report are clear that the Trust’s pursuit of foundation trust status was the sole strategic priority. This compromised the quality of patient care, caused the bullying and harassment of staff and for a culture of denial to exist at Board-level.
The report paints a stark picture of far-reaching failure that emanates from the top of the organisation, including:
- ‘Inappropriate and unsafe care unaddressed’
- An executive team that was ‘out of their depth’
- A Board of Directors in denial, more concerned with protecting their reputation than protecting patient safety and staff welfare.
- Staff subjected to a culture of bullying and harassment.
- A health care worker taken ‘hostage’ at knife-point and seriously assaulted by a patient’s relative, a case not investigated and the staff member left unsupported by the Trust.
- A patient who did not receive a health assessment leaving their lung cancer undiagnosed for four months.
- A litany of regulatory bodies (Care Quality Commission, Monitor, NHS Trust Development Authority, NHS England, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group) who each failed to identify and act on the evident failings of the Trust’s management.
- An executive team whose actions breached the Trusts own policies and national requirements
- Frontline service budgets, such as community dental services, faced with a 49% budget cut in a single financial year against national guidelines of 2% – 4% efficiency savings in a single year.
- Warning signs of poor care and service failure that were ignored by the executive team, Non-Executive Directors and Regulators.
- Executive Directors who downgraded the risk ratings for serious incidents to avoid scrutiny and protect their foundation trust application
- Evidence given by Executive Directors and Non-Executive Directors in which their credibility is questioned and statements are conflicting.
- Suppression of a report into District Nursing service failures, including staff shortages, at the same time as the Trust had a £3 million underspend in this budget
Speaking following the publication of the Capsticks Report, Rosie Cooper MP said:
“Each and every person who could have acted and should have acted to end this overwhelming failure of patients and staff at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust should feel absolute shame. They owe patients and staff a personal apology for the unbelievable distress they allowed by their inaction.
“This report is a review of governance. What it has found is an NHS scandal similar to Mid-Staffs but in community services rather than a hospital. It is a peek through the keyhole.
“This report reviews events from 2011 onwards, well after the findings of the Francis Report into Mid Staffs. The Francis Inquiry was supposed to put an end failure of patients and staff. Evidently it hasn’t.
“I believe we now need a full clinical inquiry to establish the full extent of any harm that has been caused to patient care and staff welfare.
“There can be no hiding place for the executives who presided over this disgraceful state of affairs. As the report recommends they should face the fit and proper persons test and face investigation by their professional bodies.
“For the non-executive directors who failed in their duties they should never be allowed to serve on any public body again as this report shows the extent to which they failed to protect the interest of patients and staff.
“Thankfully there is an entirely new executive team and non-executive directors who are appear to be righting the wrongs of the old regime, and putting the safety of patients and staff at the core of the services they deliver.
“The report uses exact legal language but its message is clear. Phrases like ‘sub-standard care’ and the ’emotional damage’ to staff tell of the undeniable scandal that was allowed to go on at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust over a period of years.
“This wasn’t just a poor quality job. We are talking about people who lacked basic humanity and appear to have fiddled the records to protect themselves.
“These people did nothing to help their own colleague when she was taken hostage at knifepoint and was seriously assaulted except to downgrade the risk rating so it appeared to be less serious and didn’t bother to investigate the incident.
“Some of these executives are still working in the National Health Service. Where is the justice in that?
“The report begins to make the links between chasing foundation trust status at all costs and its impact on patient care and safety.
“Patients, their families, LCH staff and each taxpayer who funds this NHS organisation deserve to know the full extent of the damage done in our name by these executives and the Board.
“I am certain this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We need to know the truth for those patients and staff who have already paid too great a personal price for the failures of others.”
In August 2013 Rosie Cooper MP’s father was admitted to the care of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust and made complaints about the quality of care he received. Subsequently staff shared their concerns with Rosie which led her to pursue the complaints.
Following the findings of the Care Quality Commission inspection published in January 2014, Rosie Cooper MP called for the resignation of chief executive, Bernie Cuthel. Rosie raised the issue with David Cameron at Prime Ministers Questions on 5 February 2014.
On 9 March 2016 Rosie Cooper MP at Department of Health Questions in the House of Commons called on the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, to ensure the Capsticks Report was made public.