Daniela Muenzel, a community engagement officer from Healthwatch Waltham Forest, is keen for residents to speak out about their local NHS hospital
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of Whipps Cross University Hospital in July aimed to assess how the service has responded to a previous inspection which labelled it ‘inadequate’.
It is too soon yet to know the results of this follow-up inspection, but Healthwatch Waltham Forest has been working to ensure that local people are being involved in the assessment process at every stage.
In the November 2014 inspection, services for outpatients, children and young people, urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, and end of life care, had all been rated as inadequate. Maternity and gynaecology services were said to ‘require improvement’.
The CQC inspects health and adult social care services in England in order to make sure they provide safe, effective, compassionate, and high-quality care. If a service is in need of improvement, the CQC ensures that improvements are made.
From the start of the process for this summer’s inspection CQC has been keen to engage with the public and patients at every stage, and has worked together with Healthwatch Waltham Forest to ensure this.
Prior to the inspection, Healthwatch supported CQC by sharing local intelligence on patient experience of Whipp’s Cross. Healthwatch gathered research reports and patient stories and also encouraged local residents to get in contact with CQC if they wanted to provide specific information which would help decide when, where and what to inspect.
In June 2016 the CQC inspection team held a meeting with patient representatives, to gather input in preparation for the upcoming inspection of the hospital. The meeting was attended by more than 20 people including representatives from Healthwatch Waltham Forest and Healthwatch Redbridge, members from the Whipps Cross Patients Panel, Save our NHS members, and local residents.
CQC representatives came and explained their role, their approach to inspection and how they work together with Healthwatch in order to ensure that patients and the public are engaged at all stages of the inspection.
Attendants provided various feedback around administrative errors, such as a need for better information and record sharing mechanisms within Whipps Cross and with external services, and on staff attitudes, including considerations on how staff morale can be improved through better continuity and investment in local recruitment.
The inspection was carried out between 27th and 28th July when CQC representatives were joined at Whipps Cross by 12 local volunteers and Healthwatch staff. The volunteers made sure patient voices were included by talking to people in waiting areas and on various wards.
The CQC report is now being written, but its publication in the autumn will not be the end of the process. Healthwatch will be holding a follow-up session to engage patient representatives and discuss the findings. We work to ensure that at all stages the public’s voice can be heard and involved. Our upcoming annual event on 5th October, called ‘Power of the People’, will also tackle this theme. I hope to see you there.
For more information on Healthwatch Waltham Forest:
Call 020 3078 9990