12 August, 2014 | By Alison Moore

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust has been urged to improve relationships between staff following a “significant increase” in disciplinary cases related to race discrimination.

This is one of the recommendations of the Care Quality Commission in its report which last week rated the trust as “requiring improvement”.

Inspectors described a “complex” history of race relations and equality at Brighton and Sussex, including a public admission in 2008 that some staff had faced discrimination.

Although no disciplinary cases or sanctions had been imposed on staff between 2004 and 2010, a number of cases “involving acts of discrimination” were recorded in 2010-11.

A drop in the number of complaints upheld in 2012-13 was followed in August last year by a significant increase in caseload, the CQC report said.

Inspectors said the trust must “ensure that relationships and behaviours between staff groups, irrespective of race and ethnicity, is addressed to promote safety, prevent any potential harm to patients and promote a positive working environment”.

While inspectors found the trust was developing a new racial equality programme, they discovered its black and minority ethnic network had “questions about the true commitment of the trust” to tackling their concerns.

However, inspectors praised its work on values and behaviours, and the openness shown to inspectors. The trust also performed strongly in critical care and in the care of dementia patients, inspectors said.

bmeThe trust’s BME network had ‘questions about the true commitment of the trust’ to tackling their concerns

The CQC found accident and emergency services at Royal Sussex County Hospital were inadequate for responsiveness, suffered significant pressures and lacked sufficient physical space to deal with the number of patients that attended.

The trust had also missed the four hour A&E waiting time target repeatedly.

The CQC’s inspection report about the hospital pinpointed problems with staffing that “put patients at risk of their care needs not being appropriately met”.

The trust had invested in extra staff, not all posts were yet filled, it added.

Trust chief executive Matthew Kershaw said the CQC report was fair and balanced and that the trust accepted it needed to improve.

“The area of challenge which is the most complex and requires the most attention is the inadequate rating we were given for A&E responsiveness at Royal Sussex County Hospital,” he added.

“I want to be very clear that this is not because our emergency department is inadequate or failing, a clarification which the CQC absolutely endorsed,” Mr Kershaw said.

“What this rating reflects is that the whole system, which includes in-hospital care, the numbers and types of people who come into A&E and the discharge of people who no longer need to be in hospital, is not working consistently as well as it should.”


Umesh Prabhu | 12-Aug-2014 2:57 PM

Happy staff – Happy patients and this is true irrespective of race, ethnicity gender and place of qualification. NHS must make sure all their staff are happy and looked after well and able to provide good quality care to their patients. If not it creates ‘Them and Us’ culture. Of course, patient safety, their well-being and the quality of care they receive must be the bottom line and no Trust should be afraid to challenge anyone who provides poor quality care irrespective of ethnicity or race. Brighton and Sussex Trust is not the only Trust to face these challenges and it is important for the Trust to work with all their staff to make sure that there is a climate of ‘openness, honesty and sincerity and all staff are dealt equally, fairly and in a supportive manner so that staff enjoy coming to work and providing good quality care.


Vivienne Lyfar-Cisse | 12-Aug-2014 7:01 PM

Stating the obvious it is a fact that Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is not the only Trust failing to deliver on its race equality duty and for this reason NHS England has announced the introduction of a new race equality standard from April 2015. Whilst a top down approach is welcomed and well overdue if lessons are to be learnt from attempts to address this issue in the past then we must make sure that BMEs as the beneficiaries can effectively contribute to the change process without fear. As reported by the CQC there has been a surge in race cases in Brighton and currently there are a number of cases in Employment Tribunal; Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal. Whilst there have been some longstanding race issues, for which apologies have been offered ,the current cases are very much related to the problems as they present now. Any hint or suggestion that the Trust is afraid to challenge BMEs in the interest of patient safety is totally misguided; however we know the evidence shows racial discrimination and patient safety is a toxic mixture and therefore in the interest of our patients this issue must be addressed. As Chair of the local BME Network and Chair of the NHS BME Network we have made it known to the Trust that as the beneficiaries we will continue to engage on this agenda on the understanding that the Trust has to demonstrate henceforth that it truly committed to addressing the institutional racism that exists. Evidently, the manner in which the Trust now deals with the current grievances and ETs will reveal how sincere it is about addressing the current problems going forward.