News story

Improvement needed at specialist cancer trust but no evidence of serious failings

A joint review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Monitor has found no evidence of serious failings in the organisational culture at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, but has highlighted areas in need of improvement.

The regulators acted after concerns were raised by former staff members suggesting a culture where staff felt inhibited to raise issues or highlight problems with the senior team.

The review team included senior staff from both organisations, CQC specialist advisors and an experienced medical director. The team spent 3 days at the trust and analysed a range of documentation, interviewed key personnel and carried out focus groups with a variety of staff groups.

Today’s report concludes that there was no evidence of serious failings of governance or widespread cultural issues at the trust, and that staff were committed to providing patients with high quality care and treatment.

However, both CQC and Monitor have identified some areas where the trust should seek to improve its performance, particularly in relation to its quality assurance processes and staff engagement.

The team have made a number of recommendations including:

  • the trust should continue to improve staff engagement and support
  • the trust should consider whether any further changes are required to human resources processes to help improve engagement with non-clinical staff groups, and if so implement improvements
  • the trust should consider whether any further improvements are required in the way it communicates and engages with staff to promote an open learning culture
  • the trust should review the processes for measuring waiting times in the outpatient department to ensure accuracy of information and timely scheduling of appointments
  • the trust should take into account the findings of this joint review when focusing the scope of its planned internal governance review

Miranda Carter, Executive Director of Provider Appraisal at Monitor, said:

We take all concerns raised by whistleblowers seriously. That’s why we wanted to work closely with the CQC to find out if there were problems with how The Christie was being run.

Our work did not highlight that there are currently serious failings of governance or culture at the trust.

Ann Ford, Head of Hospital Inspections at CQC, said:

If a trust is well-led we expect it to encourage an open and transparent culture. We found evidence of a strong commitment to delivering good outcomes for patients at The Christie, but also identified some concerning issues regarding team leadership that the trust must address.

Further work is needed to improve communication with staff and strengthen the trusts quality assurance processes.

Monitor also announced today that formal regulatory action at the trust has ended. The sector regulator has issued compliance certificates to recognise the progress that has been made.