East Kent hospitals NHS trust put into special measures
One of the largest hospital trusts in England is to be put into special measures because of "serious failures" in patient safety.
East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust serves a population of more than 750,000 people across five different hospitals.
Experts from health regulator Monitor also identified issues with safety, leadership and "a culture of bullying".
The trust said it would "work to make improvements to the services".
It was deemed inadequate by the independent watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, in August.
'Safety of care'
The trust runs the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford; the Kent and Canterbury in Canterbury; the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) in Margate; the Buckland in Dover; and the Royal Victoria in Folkestone.
Concerns were raised about a culture of bullying at the organisation and inspectors identified staff shortages in A&E, children's care and at night.
They found risks to patients and incidents involving patient safety were not always identified.
The inspection team also noticed that in a number of areas around the trust, buildings and equipment were "poorly maintained".
Monitor said it would be appointing an improvement director at the trust to provide support and to ensure it is making progress.
"The trust needs to urgently improve the safety of care for patients, and strengthen its management to better support frontline staff," said Paul Streat, regional director at Monitor.
"By putting the trust into special measures we can ensure they turn things around quickly.
"Senior leaders need to listen to and work with all staff to understand and tackle problems on their wards," he said.
Patients visiting the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on Tuesday said they had no confidence in the management.
Former cancer patient Ken Rogers, who quit in July as a governor, said: "I've argued with the trust over some of the performance results of what they've been doing to patients and they haven't listened."
Robert Watts, who was at the hospital with his wife and baby son, said: "You want the best. You want to be told the right things and hope that they do the best job they can.
"Sometimes they don't, they miss it. I just don't think that this hospital can do that."
The trust's chief executive, Stuart Bain, said: "We want to work with our regulator Monitor, our staff and our health partners to make improvements to the services we provide to the people of east Kent."
He said areas for improvement had already been recognised including the investment of an additional £2.9m to recruit 69 nurses where shortages existed.
An additional four general surgeons had also been recently appointed and a further three would be recruited shortly, Mr Bain added.
"In addition we identified the need to improve our appointment system some time ago and have just completed a public consultation on our outpatient services that will allow us to make improvements to the services we offer patients.
"New appointment booking systems, more flexible appointments, and an investment of £28m in improved facilities including a new hospital in Dover will start to address these issues," he said.
"The trust is committed to working with staff and health partners to produce an action plan to address the issues raised by the CQC and Monitor and to see us removed from special measures as soon as possible."