Stepping Hill Hospital: the verdict from the Care Quality Commission

by Iain Roberts on 3 October, 2017

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have published its latest verdict on Stepping Hill Hospital. The Manchester Evening News has its take here.

The Lib Dems have long campaigned for Stepping Hill Hospital. Last year we broke the story of how the Government were making the hospital employ management consultants at £1000+ a day to help them make savings. The savings didn’t come, but the consultants got paid anyway. We campaigned against the hike in car park fees for staff and patients – something that has made Stepping Hill one of the most expensive hospitals in the country to park at.

Today we print in full the email sent out by Stepping Hill Chief Executive Ann Barnes about the latest report. There is some good and some bad, but overall it is clear that the hospital is not offering the high standard of care across the board that local people should reasonably be able to expect, with A&E remaining of particular concern.

Quoted in the MEN,  Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said “It is clear that some elements of medical and nursing care fell short of the high standards that should rightly be expected by patients at Stepping Hill Hospital.

“We accept the findings from the Care Quality Commission and have been working with Stockport’s leadership team to address these issues; and put in place an action plan to make the necessary and required improvements to care.”




Dear Iain,


I am writing to let you know that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published reports today following their visits to our hospital earlier this year.


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has a national responsibility to monitor, inspect and regulate health and social care services to make sure they all meet quality and safety standards.


They undertook a formal inspection of our organisation in January 2016, which resulted in a ‘requires improvement’ rating. There are four possible ratings: outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.


As part of their post-inspection process – to check improvements had been made after their formal inspection – they made unannounced visits in March and June 2017, resulting in the following reports.







1: Overview of ratings


Our overall rating remains as ‘requires improvement’, but the tables below show the different ratings for our specific services, both on our hospital site and in the community.




2: Areas of concern


The CQC’s concerns were about nurse staffing, incident reporting, delayed discharges, the care for patients with diabetes and mental health issues, mortality reviews, medicines management and stock control.


They recognise that we are under pressure, but state that too many patients were waiting in our emergency department (A&E) to be admitted, transferred or discharged. Nurse staffing was a significant challenge with patients experiencing delays in treatment.



3: Intense work to make improvements


We are upset and disappointed that we have not been getting it right for every patient. We have committed and skilled staff who, despite facing many pressures, come to work every day wanting to provide the absolute best for each patient. They care deeply about what they do and this is reflected in the ‘good’ rating we received for having ‘caring’ services.


We have not waited for the publication of these CQC reports to launch a major safety and improvement plan and this is well underway. A huge amount of work has taken place to address the CQC’s concerns, with both short, medium and long-term measures being implemented.


Significant work is taking place across our hospital and in the community to address the continuing challenges in our emergency department (A&E). This includes better management of patients coming in overnight and at weekends – and improving the flow of patients through the hospital with swift, safe discharge so that beds are available for seriously ill patients needing to be admitted. We are also developing a ‘quality plan’ and a ward accreditation scheme.


Medical and nurse recruitment remains a challenge, as there is a national critical shortage in some areas, but our intense recruitment efforts continues both in the UK, Europe and further afield.


We will continue the momentum of improvement at pace, both now and in the future. This includes working with our health and social care partners on new ways of delivering care to build a system that works for patients. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring that they receive the highest quality care at all times.



4. Recent Health Education England assessment monitoring visit


The impact of our efforts was recognised when Health Education England in the North West undertook a quality monitoring visit to our A&E department and medical care areas just over a week ago, to help inform the CQC.


They found that we have made positive steps and concluded that ‘there was considerable improvement in morale, staffing levels and senior leadership in the emergency medicine department and systems in the acute care pathway.


The care of our patients is always our top priority and we will continue working hard to provide the best possible services.


Kind regards,



Ann Barnes


6 Responses

  1. Mike George says:

    Seems only yesterday when Stepping Hill got the nod from the better together campaign. Many people were surprised then. Not surprised now. The new Manchester University Foundation Trust (MFT) could teach Stepping Hill management a thing or two.

  2. Robert Cohen says:

    Too many managers………?

    I fractured my ankle a year last April whilst working in Bramhall. I was ambulanced to Stepping Hill. My experience there, including the after care appointments, was excellent. You really can’t buy this level of care. But I’m a believer in a contribution for appointments and treatment – if I’d been asked for, say, £100 towards my treatment (consultations, x-rays etc) and a small rental for the “boot” and use of crutches, it wouldn’t be too bad. Yes. I know some of my tax goes to the NHS, but I don’t see it being sustainable as a free for all. Rant over!

    • Harry Bull says:

      You can only speak as you find, 2 years ago I caught a dose of sepsis (previously aka as septicemia). This is a very unpleasant and life-threatening condition. My son insisted I went to out of hours department in Hazel Grove, doctor there took one look and I was whisked to Stepping Hill by ambulance within minutes. The exemplary treatment I received in various departments of the hospital over the next six days undoubtedly saved my life. What more is there to say?

  3. John H says:

    Contributing towards treatment is fine, but those who would find difficult to pay would get a third class service.
    THOSE WHO HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Alan says:

    Fund it properly via central government instead of cutting funds and paying private companies instead.
    Example: the Tories cut funding to the NHS, but the rise in payments to private ambulance companies has risen 60%.

    Privatisation by stealth.

  5. Kerry Armitage says:

    The nursing care at this hospital is rapidly slipping from being an excellent hospital 5 or 6 years ago and now the CQC report is evident of this. Seems to be lots of ‘much needed’ changes in senior management after Ann Barnes and Judith Molls made that bad decision to spend millions of taxpayers money on the KMPG consultants that produced nothing more than upsetting an already despondent workforce; salary pay freezes, no training, huge car park charge hikes; as well as being the most expensive nhs hospital to park if you’re a patient – well done Stepping Hill board for running this hospital into the ground!!!

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