A world renowned hospital where many of Bedford’s cancer patients go for treatment has been put into special measures following a health watchdog inspection.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has identified a string of failings at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which has links with Bedford Hospital.
Now the trust that runs the Cambridge teaching hospital must put in place improvements and will face further monitoring and surprise inspections by the watchdog.
Chief inspector of hospitals for the CQC, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “We found a number of serious problems when we inspected the services run by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and I have made a recommendation to Monitor that the trust should be placed into special measures.
“We made Monitor aware of our concerns following the inspection and it has begun to work with the trust to make sure these are appropriately addressed and that progress is monitored.”
Inspectors, who visited between April 21 and 24 this year, discovered staff shortages, which meant that they were struggling to cope with the number of patients and wards caring for critically ill adults were not staffed in line with national guidance.
A shortage of beds meant that routine surgery admissions were frequently cancelled and patients were waiting longer than the 18-week referral to treatment target for operations.
But Sir Richards also said that staff were caring and went the ‘extra mile’ for patients.
“Staff were hard working, passionate and caring throughout the trust, prepared to go the extra mile for patients, but having to swim upstream against the pressures they faced,” he said.
“Because of the quality of care delivered by the staff, we rated the trust as outstanding for caring.”
MP for Bedford and Kempston Richard Fuller has previously supported establishing stronger links between Bedford and Addenbrooke’s hospitals.
In a column for Bedford Today in January this year, he said: “An alliance with Addenbrooke’s Hospital is the right future for Bedford Hospital to ensure modern, safe and sustainable services delivered locally, here in Bedford, but drawing on the expertise of Addenbrooke’s to meet the challenge of increasing healthcare quality.
“That is my view and it is one which is shared, I believe, by many of our local doctors. They understand that many of our specialist clinical “pathways” – where we get treated for very complex conditions – point eastward toward Cambridge rather than westward toward Milton Keynes.
“Our hospital leaders know that an alliance with Addenbrooke’s will help us to recruit and retain quality medical staff enabling maternity, paediatrics and A&E in Bedford to meet the ever increasing standards of care rightly demanded by local residents.”