Herald Opinion: DGH report ... worse than most had feared

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None of us takes any pleasure from seeing our local hospital maligned as the DGH has been this week in a damning report by the Care Quality Commission.

We had expected it to be bad. In the event, it was worse than most had feared.

A ‘snapshot’ - trust chief executive Darren Grayson’s description - it may have been but isn’t that the case with any unnanounced inspection, in any walk of life? And unaware some staff were, to the point that they didn’t even notice a patient in a chair left semi-naked in view of others.

If that sounds like an isolated incident, at the other end of the scale we have the assertion that patients on Jevington ward suffered ‘institutionalised abuse’.

The Care Quality Commission itself should not be seen as infallible. It was created as part of the compliance culture of today’s Britain and by its very nature, leans towards over-zealous paperwork. Tick the right boxes at the right time and all manner of frailties can be hidden.

But this report is too damning to be dismissed in that way. And Darren Grayson will recognise that, however much he trumpets a 90 per cent satisfaction rate among patients questioned for in-house surveys.

We have every sympathy today for the dedicated and hard-working staff who have seen their hospital plastered across newspapers and television screens for much of this week.

The media is only the messenger. The real fault lies with those bad apples - at all levels of seniority -who have been responsible for the falling standards. They should feel shame.

Sadly, we are now in something of a vicious circle. The poorer the hospital’s reputation, the less likely it is to attract the calibre of staff needed to lift performance. The greater the number of vacancies, the bigger the threat to standards.

Cynics will suggest that those in some quarters will be rubbing their hands at the CQC criticism of the maternity unit. The current two-site configuration may not be deemed safe, but that is not an invitation to run the unit down or close it. Rather it is a challenge to raise the bar and provide first-class maternity and obstetric care - in our own top notch district general hospital.

Anything less is unacceptable.