CQC investigations into Good Hope and Heartlands Hospitals


Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull are concerned by the findings of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections of Good Hope Hospital and Heartlands Hospital, following reports of patient safety concerns. That the CQC has issued a notice requiring University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) to make significant and immediate improvements to staffing levels at Good Hope Hospital will worry many people, particularly after the findings of the recent Bewick report into patient safety at UHB.

Although Professor Bewick and his team did highlight staffing levels at Good Hope Hospital as a concern in their report, the fact that the CQC also believed it necessary to make an urgent inspection of the medical assessment unit (MAU) in medical care and the children and young people’s services at Heartlands Hospital raises important additional questions that require serious and urgent attention.

As Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull have previously stated, the short timescale in which Professor Bewick completed his work meant that other patient safety concerns could emerge aside from those identified in the interim report. This latest CQC inspection makes it clear that patients now require solid proof of action rather than just reassurance about safety if confidence in UHB is to be restored. We note that UHB is already taking steps to address staffing shortages, and we will be seeking regular updates around progress on these and other issues related to patient safety at the Trust.

We must also be mindful of the impact these concerns have on staff as well as the public. Much of the feedback Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull receive about care at UHB corroborates the CQC statement that UHB staff are ‘working extremely hard under pressure, and treating people with compassion and kindness.’ However, the enormous demands being placed on over-stretched staff is obviously damaging morale. It is therefore imperative that, alongside redoubling recruitment efforts, UHB provides sufficient mental health and other forms of pastoral support to current staff, to show that their hard work and dedication is truly valued and to enable them to deliver the high quality healthcare they want to provide to the people of Birmingham and Solihull.

– Richard Burden, Chair, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.