03 Feb 2022
Press release embargoed until 00.01hrs on Friday 4 February
A link to the embargoed inspection report is at the end of this email
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told North Middlesex University Hospital Trust to make improvements to its services for patients with red blood cell disorders, such as sickle cell disease* and thalassaemia.**
CQC carried out an unannounced focused inspection in August to check on the safety and quality of care of the service, following a serious incident which resulted in the avoidable death of a patient in 2019.
The inspection looked at whether the service for patients with sickle cell disease was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. No other parts of the core medical care service were inspected. Due to the nature of this focused inspection, the overall rating for medical services remains as requires improvement.
Nigel Acheson, CQC’s deputy chief inspector for hospital inspection, said:
“We inspected North Middlesex University Hospital to check on the safety of services for patients with sickle cell disease, following a serious incident resulting in the tragic, and avoidable, death of a patient.
“Regrettably, we found the pace of improvement was slow. Learning had not been prioritised by the trust and improvements still needed to be made and fully embedded. We heard that some staff did not take the disease seriously and regarded sickle cell patients as difficult. One patient, who was in severe pain, said she was made to feel like a drug addict for requesting pain relief. This is totally unacceptable.
“Although the trust said it would put all patients with sickle cell disease on a specialist ward, with the right mix of staff to care for their needs, we heard a significant number were not placed there. We were also extremely concerned that poor communication meant key staff weren’t informed when patients with sickle cell disease were scheduled to be in the operating theatre. These patients need a specialist team to support them during surgery and this was a contributory factor in the death of a patient, so it is alarming to find that this was still an issue.
“We have told the trust that it must take action to improve the service for patients with red blood cell disorders and we will monitor its progress to ensure that these are made.
“Unfortunately, North Middlesex University Hospital is not alone in its failings when it comes to understanding and prioritising the specialised treatment required by patients with red blood cell disorders. We are aware of other incidences of sickle cell patients experiencing sub-standard care in hospitals, and elsewhere in the healthcare system, due to low awareness of the disease amongst staff. This cannot be allowed to continue, and we will ensure that it does not.”
Inspectors found the following during this inspection:
The report will be published on the website on Friday 4 February.
Notes to editor
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the CQC’s regulatory role has not changed. CQC’s core purpose of keeping people safe is always driving decisions about when and where we inspect. As the risks from the pandemic change, we are evolving how we regulate services to reflect what we have learnt during this time. You can read more about our current approach on our website.
CQC is listening to what people are saying about services to help detect any changes in care. If there is evidence people are at immediate risk of harm, CQC can and will take action to ensure that people are being kept safe. People can give feedback about their care to CQC via the details below.
Give feedback via the website
Telephone - 03000 616161
For media enquiries:
John Scott, Regional Communications and Engagement Manager - 07789 875809 - email@example.com or
Nicki Dallison, Regional Communications and Engagement Officer – 07385 373968 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively you can email email@example.com
Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team on the website.
For media enquiries about the Care Quality Commission, please call the press office on 020 3855 4621 during office hours. Follow the team on Twitter for the latest national announcements: @CQCPressOffice. Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here. Please note: the duty press officer is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters.
For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.