Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust will be placed into "special measures", after a damning investigation report found it to be "inadequate". A review conducted in April by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton as "inadequate" for safety and for leadership, while the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath was described as requiring "improvement overall".
According to the CQC, people from black and minority backgrounds reported "discrimination was rife in the organisation", while some lesbian, gay and transgender staff said they felt discriminated against.
"It is clear that the problems we have found on this inspection go right through Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust," said Professor Edward Baker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals for the CQC.
"It is a matter of some concern that we found there was a distinct disconnect between the trust board and staff working in clinical areas, with very little insight by the board into the main safety and risk issues, and seemingly little appetite to resolve them."
Among the failings uncovered during the investigation, the CQC found the number of staff was not sufficient to guarantee safe care for all the patients, while cleanliness and fire safety were both singled out as major issues.
The report also found that patients were often kept in surgical recovery rooms – normally just a temporary stop for patients, who are then returned to a ward or intensive care unit – for up to three days.
Even more worryingly, the trust recorded seven "never events" in 2015 – including four occasions when surgeons operated on the wrong part of a patient's body.
Baker explained the trust had been lagging behind the standards required for some time and urged it to address the issues highlighted in the report.
"For some time the trust has been failing to meet national standards on waiting and treatment times, there were high numbers of cancelled appointments and operations, and delays in providing diagnostic results," he stated.
"As a matter of priority the trust needs to address the long-standing issues surrounding its people policies and implement an immediate programme of change to improve the culture of the organisation."