Hospital managers at the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital have told a committee that some serious incidents affecting patients had been wrongly recorded in the past.
The chief nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Michelle Rhodes, and the acting chief executive, Rupert Egginton, both appeared at a health and adult social care scrutiny committee on Thursday, 11 November.
Issuing an apology, they explained some hospital incidents had been wrongly categorised – but said the mistakes were not malicious.
The trust runs both of Nottingham’s major hospitals.
The Nottingham City Council committee was examining the progress made by the Trust following a damning report by inspectors, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC visited both hospitals earlier this year and found a “culture of bullying” and inadequate leadership at the organisation.
In a separate probe, maternity services are also being investigated by the CQC following a number of baby deaths and incidents of children born with brain injuries.
Cllr Georgia Power (Lab), chair of the committee, said she was concerned there may be similar problems in other departments.
“We are very concerned the CQC report said it is a widespread issue – it is not isolated to maternity.”
Mrs Rhodes said some serious incidents had been classed as non-serious incidents in the past, but over the last four months, recording had been “tightened”.
She said: “We don’t think there is another big problem like there is in maternity. We did a deep dive across the whole organisation (after the maternity report).
“We have changed our processes and that has been in place for several months. We are deeply sorry.
“I don’t believe the way we classed incidents was in any way malicious. We used the national framework and our interpretation around this.
“They were investigated locally but we did not share as much as we should have done with patients and families, but they are much more robust now.”
She said all serious incidents in the maternity wards are now reported to the Trust board and to the Clinical Commissioning Group.
Cllr Power said she was worried about how many incidents had been missed as result.
NUH said many work groups had been set up, including monthly meetings with unions, to unsure staff were listened to and bullying is stamped out.
The organisation is also focussing on recruitment, retention and absence to maximise its workforce. There will also be more flexible working hours for staff.
Cllr Maria Joannou (Lab), added: “It just seems to me you got caught out. You were listening to managers and not frontline staff.
“The frontline were not as valued as they should have been and that is why you have ended up where you are.
“I want to see evidence that it is changing and putting people in fancy titles is just creating another tier of managers.
“It is sad – it should never have got to this.”
Cllr Samuel Gardiner (Lab) asked hospital bosses: “Has there been an apology from NUH for the shortcomings to the staff and the city?”
Acting chief executive Mr Egginton, who has been in the NHS for 34 years, said: “We have issued an apology. We don’t want this situation.
“We are deeply sorry – especially the impact it has on the organisation and the confidence people have in the organisation.
“Staff, and the pride they should have, but also patients who will inevitably approach things with a greater degree of anxiety – so please accept our apology.”
Speaking about the culture of bullying mentioned in the CQC report, he added: “We are a big organisation and we did not believe it existed and we were fooling ourselves.
“There were elements in there (the report) we were not as attuned to as we should be.
“I can’t wind the clock back. We have gone through a really difficult period over the last 18 months and that has attributed to some of the things we are hearing from staff. We have put tremendous demands on our staff.”
He said NUH accepted the points made by the CQC and it was now the Trust’s commitment to change things around.