The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is blaming hospital bosses, rather than frontline staff, for the “shocking” safety failures uncovered in hospitals and care homes across the country.

After a year of rigorous inspections, the CQC has published an overview of its findings. There is much cause for concern, with four out of five hospitals being rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’.

Inspectors found huge variations in standards, with significant disparities between neighbouring wards and hospitals. There is also a shortage of nurses in care homes, while most of those inspected failed to protect patients from needless harm.

“Them and us” culture

The report suggests patient safety is directly related to the quality of management, with poor leadership resulting in unsafe hospitals. Too many organisations had a “them and us” culture, with mistrust between medical staff and bosses.

The CQC suggests most of the NHS organisations inspected were poorly led, and could no longer rely upon a lack of money as an excuse for poor patient safety. In conclusion, the report said the “level of poor performance is shocking.”

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: “The public is being failed by the numerous hospitals, care homes and GP practices that are unable to meet the standards that their peers achieve.”

“The safety of services is our biggest concern”, he added. “Care providers must make the basics of safe care a priority. The findings from our inspections over the last year clearly show there is too much variation in quality and safety between services and within services. People need to have confidence that they will get good care.”

“We have…seen very poor care, such as the care home that inspectors found smelling of urine and where residents were still in bed at 10.30am, with many not getting the help they needed to eat their breakfast.”

Effective leadership is “key”

Chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Peter Carter, said: “This report correctly identifies strong and effective leadership as key to good quality care. This means ward sisters who have the time and resources to manage their staff, all the way up to trust boards who take an active interest in what is happening on the front line.”

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