In a damning indictment of its patient care, Lewisham Hospital was rated the worst in London this week.
The Dr Foster Hospital Guide, produced by a private-public partnership company linked to the NHS, gave Lewisham the third worst score out of all trusts in the country: just 3.43 out of 100.
It was named as being one of the 12 poorest performing trusts in the UK.
The Dr Foster report scored hospitals using a complex points-based system, taking into account aspects of care such as mortality rates, cancelled appointments and patient waiting times.
It highlighted that Lewisham Hospital was the worst in the UK for giving suspected stroke victims prompt CT scans, with only 23 per cent given the test within 24 hours of their admittance to hospital.
The mortality rate for patients suffering heart attacks was nearly 10 per cent above the national average, and the death rate for patients admitted with a broken hip was also unusually high.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), a body that monitors the quality of care provided by the NHS, rated Lewisham Hospital Trust as “good” in an annual report published in October.
Lewisham Hospital Trust, which has applied to be one of the UK’s Foundation Trusts, said in a statement: “We are surprised and disappointed at this scoring from Dr Foster, especially as we were rated in the top 40 Hospitals by CHKS, the UK’s leading independent provider of healthcare intelligence and quality improvement services, earlier this year.”
The revelations have proved embarrassing for the CQC and forced them to defend their ratings system, which is based on hospitals’ own self-assessment.
Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the CQC, said: “All of [the 12 hospitals named in the report] have been subject to scrutiny by CQC and where we had concerns, we have followed these up.”
She added: “We can and do act swiftly wherever we find reasons for concern.”
The CQC also pointed out that assessing a trust using a snapshot of statistics at a particular point in time is a flawed method.
But Bower was willing to admit that there was much to be done to improve patient care in hospitals like Lewisham.
“The NHS cannot stand still on safety. It needs to make further improvements,” she said. “Delivering healthcare is not risk free and mistakes will be made on occasion. But people must know that everything is being done, for every patient, every day to minimise safety risks.”
Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, reflected that users may still be confused about the results.
He said: “There appears to be conflicting interpretations of the same data and until this Dr Foster organisation can explain how they have reached this conclusion it would not be appropriate for me to comment.”
We talked to people outside the hospital and found a very different response (see video below)