Whipps Cross diagnostic imaging service "inadequate" and "bullying" claims highlighted

Whipps Cross University Hospital

Whipps Cross in Leytonstone has had its diagnostic imaging department rated inadequate - Credit: Ken Mears

A health watchdog has told Barts Health NHS Trust that the diagnostic imaging department at Whipps Cross University Hospital are inadequate.

Following inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in May 2021, the hospital in Leytonstone has been rated as inadequate in the "safe" and "well-led" categories, with an overall rating of inadequate for the diagnostic imaging service. 

Another Barts Trust hospital, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, was also told that improvements were required in its diagnostic imaging department. 

Nicola Wise, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said the commission had “several serious concerns” following their inspection of the diagnostic imaging services at Barts Health NHS Trust. 

At Whipps Cross, the commission found ageing equipment did not always work and that in some cases new equipment could not be used as it had not been integrated into software systems. 

They also found that rooms containing specialist equipment were not always locked, posing a risk to staff, patients and visitors. 

She said: “In both hospitals, we were informed of allegations of bullying, harassment, racism and sexism that had had apparently been escalated to the human resources department but staff felt had not been resolved.

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"It was also deeply concerning that, at both hospitals, staff were concerned about using mechanisms for raising concerns or reporting incidents because they were afraid they may be treated unfavourably by managers for doing so.” 

The commission has told the trust that governance and risk management structures must be improved and said that they would return to ensure improvements are made. 

A spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust said: “We took urgent steps to address security and safety concerns raised by the CQC in recent spot-check inspections of the imaging departments at The Royal London and Whipps Cross hospitals, and are now working closely with staff to make sustainable improvements for our patients.” 

Dame Alwen Williams, DBE, Group Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, said the trust would be ensuring appropriate oversight and processes were in place for escalating wellbeing issues. 

She said: “We have a responsibility to listen to what our hard-working team are saying, and respond appropriately and sensitively.” 

She added that it was “concerning” to hear that some staff have had experience of bullying, harassment and sexism, and said the trust was “committed to eliminating discrimination".