Report reveals staff shortages and leadership failures at Weston Hospital

Weston Hospital ordered to improve after CQC report

Weston Hospital has been ordered to improve after a CQC report found staff shortages and a lack of leadership. - Credit: Archant

Weston General Hospital has been told it must improve after a report highlighting staff shortages and leadership failures in its medical care services.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a focused inspection into medical care services at the hospital in March after concerns were raised about nursing and medical staffing. 

Inspectors found a shortage of nursing staff at all levels, with the majority of senior staff employed on a locum basis.  

The report states: “The service did not have enough permanent medical staff at all levels to meet the recommended guidance.

"There was also a shortage of permanent nursing or therapy staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep people safe from harm and provide the right care and treatment.” 

Inspectors also said leaders at Weston hospital ‘did not demonstrate the capacity to run the service’. 

Amanda Williams, CQC’s head of hospital inspections, said: “We found that staff were caring and focused on the needs of patients, but it was clear that the leadership team needs to make a number of sustainable improvements in order to ensure that the service operates effectively.”  

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University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has been ordered to send the CQC an action plan outlining the measures it is going to take to make improvements.

The health watchdog will continue to monitor the service to ensure these are implemented. 

More: Merger of Weston and Bristol hospitals creates new NHS trust.

Deirdre Fowler, chief nurse at UHBW, said the trust accepts there are areas in medical care it needs to improve and is fully committed to making the ‘necessary improvements.’ 

She confirmed the hospital has faced staffing issues for many years, but said it has already made progress by recruiting a new cohort of nurses, who are due to start in the next six months.

She said: “While we expect to reduce our vacancies from current levels, we are block booking temporary staff in the meantime so that the same professionals provide continuity of care.   

“It’s important we recognise and thank our hard-working staff at Weston General Hospital for their dedication and commitment over the past year of the pandemic, and we were pleased the CQC found that staff were caring and focused on the needs of our patients.   

“We are committed to making the necessary improvements and our focus will remain on providing safe and high quality care to our patients.” 

North Somerset Council is also calling for an action plan and extra funding to tackle the hospital’s ‘historic weaknesses’ highlighted in the CQC report. 

More: Review of Weston A&E's overnight closure to go ahead in April despite Covid disruption.

The authority’s executive member responsible for health and adult social care, Cllr Mike Bell, said: “Weston General Hospital has had significant challenges for many years, particularly around the ability to recruit and retain appropriate staff, but also due to the uncertainty about the future of the hospital and trust. 

“I’d hoped the merger of the Weston Area Health NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust would be the catalyst for a new approach at the hospital, with clearer leadership. 

“It’s disappointing this latest CQC report confirms concerns remain about the leadership, management and staffing levels at the hospital. 

“As we begin to come out of the worst of the pandemic and NHS services start the work to get back to normal - and tackle a backlog of treatments that have built up - it is time that we saw more rapid progress from the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust in addressing historic weaknesses. 

“The Healthy Weston programme, which set out plans to reimagine Weston General Hospital, needs to get back on track, as it has not progressed as quickly as we need and there are legitimate concerns it is no longer addressing the fundamental challenges. 

“I expect to see an action plan from the trust to tackle these issues and look to the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to provide the funding and support needed for it to be implemented.” 

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