The largest NHS trust in the UK which runs east London’s hospitals has been placed in special measures after a damning inspection by the healthcare watchdog.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission found a series of major problems at Whipps Cross University Hospital in east London after patients raised the alarm.

The chief inspector of hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, said the Barts Health NHS Trust must “get a grip on what is happening” after publishing the report today.

The trust’s hospitals include:

  • St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City
  • The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel
  • The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green
  • Newham University Hospital in Plaistow
  • Mile End Hospital
  • Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone.

The CQC said it found a “culture of bullying and harassment” at Whipps Cross hospital with staff too often scared to speak to inspectors for fear of repercussions.

Two healthcare assistants were jailed in August 2013 for abusing elderly patients while a third received a suspended sentence for neglect following an inquiry sparked by a whistleblower.

Sir Mike said that many of the failings found following the 2013 incidents were not resolved a year later and some, including staff morale, were worse.

The report concluded: “We found urgent and emergency care, medical care, surgery, services for children and young people, outpatients and diagnostic imaging and services for those patients requiring end of life care were inadequate. Significant improvements are required in these core services.

“We found that maternity and gynaecology and critical care require improvement.

“We rated this hospital as inadequate for safe, effective, responsive and well-led, and rated caring as requires improvement.”

As part of the special measures the leadership team will be strengthened and Whipps Cross will get a dedicated managing director and a director of nursing, as well as a medical director to oversee its day-to-day running.

Trust chief executive Peter Morris said: “We are very sorry for the failings identified by the CQC in some of our services at Whipps Cross and we know the trust has a big challenge ahead.

“Much has been done but we recognise that more needs to be done. We will take all the necessary steps to raise quality standards.”

Since the inspection in November the CQC has issued four warning notices requiring the trust to improve the care and welfare of patients, its system for monitoring services, staffing levels, and handling of complaints.

Sir Mike said: “There is a large section of the population in east London who depend on this hospital and they are entitled to services which provide safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care.

“Barts Health NHS Trust has not given sufficient priority to safety.”

Mr Morris added: “The special measures regime is designed to aid service improvement by providing help and support where it is most needed. It has worked well with NHS organisations in other parts of the country and I am confident it will work here."