NHS managers covering up issues – whistleblower

Managers at a medical rehabilitation unit are “covering it up” when issues are raised, a whistleblower has said.

The whistleblower claimed Cambridge Rehabilitation Unit (CRU) management bullied staff who flagged concerns over shortages and unsafe practice.

Documents detail claims of “dangerous” staffing levels, patients left in bed all day without therapy and a one-star food hygiene rating.

The trust which runs CRU said extensive improvement work had been done.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) said the 36-bed unit is an inpatient facility for rehabilitation and long-term condition treatment for patients with complex needs.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC discovered three whistleblowing complaints were made to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) between May and August last year.

The first said wards “run on dangerous levels of staff” and no action was taken when staff flagged concerns.

The second stated there was “bullying occurring from management when staff raise concerns regarding short staffing and unsafe practice”.

They said: “When issues relating to patient safety are raised… management are ‘covering it up’.”

The whistleblower also told the CQC patient safety was “being compromised by an understaffed hospital; unmet needs of patients are not being responded to.”

“Patients are left in their bed 24/7 without getting therapy, not getting out of bed due to lack of staff”.

The whistlblower told the CQC they felt “there is very unsafe practice.”

The final complaint said their food hygiene rated had been downgraded from four to one star, while the nurse to patient ratio had been increased regardless of medical need.

A child of a patient also complained to the CQC in July, stating their father had not seen a therapist on the rehabilitation unit, despite being admitted two weeks earlier.

The unit is split into a west and east side, and CPFT said the latter was temporarily closed for four months while a “detailed action plan was put in place which involved additional training for staff”.

As part of its FOI request, the BBC asked for CPFT’s internal reviews and reports related to the CRU.

CPFT said internal investigations found no evidence of bullying – but the BBC has not been provided any documentation through its FOI of these investigations – and that all patient safety complaints are investigated.

A CPFT spokesman said: “Extensive work has been undertaken to address the concerns at the CRU.

“There is no doubt that in some case [sic] the standards of care had fallen below what was expected.

“We have since recruited additional staff – including two new ward managers, an additional modern matron, and further clinical colleagues – and the unit has been re-opened on a gradual basis.

“The Care Quality Commission and the Integrated Care Board (ICB) were kept fully informed throughout this process, and representatives of the ICB recently visited the unit to see the improvement work that has been carried out.”


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