Inspection launched over faulty breast cancer screening tests

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AN URGENT inspection into breast cancer screening at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to be carried out by health chiefs, it was announced this week.

In the light of emerging concerns about faulty tissue tests for breast cancer patients, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to carry out an urgent inspection into screening, pathology and clinical governance, starting today.

The CQC has also agreed to carry out a “deep dive” review to reassure Monitor that it has no concerns about standards of patient care elsewhere at the trust.

It forms part of action taken by Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, to ensure that Sherwood Forest Hospitals has strong leadership, is delivering high-quality services for local patients and is financially viable.

The trust was found in significant breach of its terms of authorisation on 21st September and a special meeting of Monitor’s Board has decided to exercise formal powers to require remedial action on a number of fronts.

Following the resignation of Tracey Doucét, Monitor has appointed Chris Mellor as interim chair of the trust board.

Following the appointment of Eric Morton as interim CEO, Monitor insists that it should be fully engaged in securing a permanent appointment.

Monitor has instructed the trust to commission a series of reviews including, a review of quality governance, a review of board governance, an independent external review of the trust’s financial situation, and a strategic review of long term options for financial viability.

Monitor’s chief operating officer, Stephen Hay said: “We are using our formal regulatory powers of intervention because we are concerned the trust has failed to get to grips with the scale of the problems it faces.

“In addition to the trust’s financial difficulties our concern about its leadership has been heightened by the disclosure that some breast cancer patients are to receive an apology from the Trust and an urgent review of their treatment after an investigation into faulty pathology test results.

“The reviews we have commissioned will assess whether or not this issue was identified and dealt with sufficiently promptly. If either the CQC’s inspection, or the trust’s own external expert review, reveals any other matters of concern we will not hesitate to intervene again.”

Monitor had already increased its regulatory scrutiny because of financial and governance concerns, stepping in because the trust’s financial performance had rapidly deteriorated after it made a £5.9m loss in quarter one this year having failed to deliver recurrent savings of £10m in the last financial year.

Eric Morton will take over from Mark Goldman, whose own contract as interim CEO expires on 15th October.

Have you been affected by any of the breast cancer screening issues at Sherwood Forest Hospitals? If so contact us on 01623 450309.