Hospital services

The main hospital we commission services from is Whipps Cross part of Barts Health NHS Trust.

It provides a huge range of services, including fertility, maternity, orthopaedic and rehabilitation care. You can find out more on the Barts Health website.

Improving quality at Whipps Cross Hospital

You may be aware that a recent Care Quality Commission report highlighted some serious failings at the hospitals, and trust that runs Whipps Cross, Barts Health NHS Trust, was placed in special measures.

As a commissioner we have an important role to play in improving the quality of care at Whipps Cross Hospital, so we are working closely with Barts Health, the Trust Development Authority and our other health and social care partners.

We closely monitor the targets that Whipps Cross needs to achieve and hold monthly meetings with the hospital team. We are providing them with the support they need, but as commissioners we are also holding them to account and pushing them to meet their contractual requirements. 

While there are some big issues that need to be addressed, it is important to know that Whipps Cross often does a very good job. A lot of the problems faced are due to factors outside of the hospital’s control. For example, 25% of people who visit the A&E department could have been seen by someone else – like a GP or a pharmacist.

To help support Barts, we have two major transformation programmes in place called Transforming Services Together and Better Care Together. These are addressing some of the major challenges faced by our health and care system.

Barts Health also has its own transformation programme underway called Safe and Compassionate. This is their quality improvement plan, which sets out what they are doing to provide consistently safe and compassionate healthcare across the board, and improve the experience of patients and staff in their five hospitals. You can visit Bart's website to read monthly updates on progress.

Making Whipps Cross fit for the future

An ambitious integrated care programme which we ran in conjunction with Waltham Forest Council and Barts Health has seen admissions to Whipps Cross A&E drop by 24% (1,806 episodes) in the past two years. It is our intention to reduce admissions by 40% to help manage the growth in population, which is estimated at 270,000 over next decade across the three boroughs where Barts Health hospital are located.

Even with a reduction in admissions the population growth means we would still need a hospital in Waltham Forest, so the facilities must be fit for the future. We are working with our partners to see how we can rebuild Whipps Cross to bring the site into the 21st century, and believe this should include a health and social care campus.

We have also improved quality of care for elderly patients, in conjunction with Barts Health and the Patients Association. In 2014, after hearing patient complaints about the winter resilience wards a ‘Gold Standard of Care’ was designed with patients, their families and hospital staff. It outlines 14 standards of care elderly patients should expect when visiting hospital. Students from Leyton Sixth Form College supported this by volunteering on wards to talk with elderly patients and help implement the Alzheimer’s Society ‘Forget Me Not’ tool. You can read more about this here.

Monitoring and driving quality at Whipps Cross

We are working closely with neighbouring CCGs in Newham and Tower Hamlets, where Barts Health hospitals are also based, to make sure that the recommendations for improvements outlined by the Care Quality Commission are implemented, and that everything that can be done to improve safety and quality is being done. Our three boroughs are developing a clinical strategy for east London that will transform the way we care for patients: preventing ill health, supporting people to live healthier lives and tackling inefficiencies so that we can invest in coordinated, high-quality sustainable services.

Locally, we chair a weekly meeting to support the hospital with external issues that sometimes delay patients from being discharged, and we are about to launch an integrated discharge team so every patient is discharged through one point. It will make the process faster and easier for patients, their families, carers and GPs.

We also hold monthly clinical quality review meetings, clinical harm review meetings, a dedicated monthly clinical forum for GPs and consultants and regular quality assurance visits. We have established an oversight and assurance committee, jointly chaired by the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) and the CCG, to review progress in delivering the improvement plan.

Future of Whipps Cross Hospital

Whipps Cross Hospital provides vital services for people in east London and beyond. More than 1,600 patients are treated every day and we want to ensure it works well into the future. 

Barts Health NHS Trust is working on a ‘case for change’ and a plan to engage patients and the public in order to ensure Whipps Cross provides consistently high-quality hospital services, including full maternity and Accident & Emergency services. 

NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group and a range of other organisations have a key role in developing a shared vision for integrated health, care and wellbeing services at Whipps Cross. 

You can keep up to date with any news and events by visiting the Barts Health NHS Trust website.