Spotlight on health chiefs

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

Hospital bosses in Wigan who splashed out £10,000 to prepare staff for an inspection have said they worked “incredibly hard to keep costs down.”

Figures obtained by the Wigan Evening Post have revealed Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust paid £9,711 on “external expertise” in the lead-up to a scrutiny visit from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year.

The Trust also paid out £1,418 on leaflets but bosses said the expenditure was to ensure staff were fully prepared during the “particularly stressful” visit.

The CQC’s report has not yet been published but is expected by the end of this month.

A spokesman for the Trust said: “The CQC Inspection is an unprecedented and intense experience for all organisations.

“From the date it was announced last July, a significant amount of staff resources were required to manage the preparation of the inspection itself, and to process the considerable number of information requests received from the CQC.

“WWL worked incredibly hard to keep costs down. Considerable effort was made to make sure as much of the work as possible was undertaken by existing staff members.

“In-house facilities and services managed the CQC’s logistical requests during the inspection and as such, we were also able to keep extra costs to a minimum.”

Released through a freedom of information request, the figures show £320 was spent on catering and the loss of car parking revenue as a result of reserving spaces for inspectors has been estimated at £591.

The CQC said it is up to each NHS Trust “to account for how it uses public money” but is aware many enlist the help of outside agencies and services.

A spokesman for the watchdog said: “Whenever we inspect our focus is always first on the quality and safety of care.

“In practice we do know that trusts will make preparations before inspection.

“We would hope that any money spent on advice is proportionate to the long term improvement in patient care that would happen as a result of that advice.”

A WWL spokesman added: “A team of 40 CQC inspectors visited our hospitals in December. They spoke to our patients, their families and carers and our staff. “We value our staff highly and in order to prepare and support them for the formal and informal interviews we sought external expertise.

“This enabled staff to be fully prepared in advance of the inspection, as we know that this can be particularly stressful and can provoke a high level of anxiety.”