26th May, 2018

'No tangible improvement in performance' health watchdog slams Worcestershire health trust

THE local acute trust has once again been slammed for the standard of its health care, this time after an unannounced visit by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors visited the Trust on April 11 and 12 and again on April 25 to interview key members of staff and found ‘no tangible improvement in performance’.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was rated ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC in July 2015 and the trust has been in special measures since December 2015, extended following an inspection in November and December 2016.

Last year was issued with a ‘Section 29a’ warning notice which placed it at the highest level of concern.

In this most recent visit inspectors said: “There was no tangible improvement in performance, caring for patients in the corridors in the Emergency Department had become institutionalised and we found patients’ privacy, dignity and effective care remained compromised.

“The Trust senior leaders were not effectively addressing these risks through a whole hospital approach.”

Among other issues, the shock report also found that even when there were empty cubicles in A&E, patients were still left on trolleys in corridors while two thirds of staff in key care departments were not up to date on medicines management.

The inspectors called for ‘urgent improvements’ to address their findings and have given the Trust until September 31 – eight weeks – to address the matter.

These ranged from the most basic levels of care – staff frequently not washing their hands between patients, to managers failing to act on known concerns.

The A&E department at Worcestershire Royal was still consistently failing to hit its four hour waiting time target with some patients waiting up to 12 hours.

Patient dignity and privacy was being compromised with screens not used around patients waiting on trolleys in corridors.

Inspectors quoted the example of a patient left on a trolley with a cup of tea in one hand and a piece of toast with a nob on butter on it in the other hand and completely unable to spread the butter.

Patients details could be overheard and in some cases patient records were not kept in a safe place.

Professor Ted Baker, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I remain concerned that the trust has not taken sufficient action to address the requirements of our previous inspections, and patients using services continue to experience a poor level of care.

“The new executive team are recently established and are aware they face significant challenges. It is important that they drive the necessary improvements to the safety and quality of patient care, with continued support from NHS Improvement and others.”

Trust chief executive Michelle Mckay, who only arrived at there in March, said she fully accepted the CQC’s findings.

She said: ”We are disappointed with, but fully accept, the shortfalls the Care Quality Commission has identified in their focused inspection in April.

“I am sorry the Trust did not make all the necessary improvements in that period and have continued to let down our patients, their families and carers by not meeting the quality standards they rightly expect.

“We want all our patients to get the best care possible and regret that this isn’t always happening but we’re determined to put things right.”

She added that shortcomings with regard to patient dignity and privacy “were totally unacceptable” but added that since April the Trust had made considerable strides in meeting many of the improvements demanded by the CQC.

She added the Trust would be ensuring it learnt key lessons from incidents, that staff training would be stepped up and that working with partners the issue of overcrowding would be addressed.

With plans for the future of acute health care now agreed and with £29million in capital funding secured from the Government, early strides would be made in providing more beds at Worcester and improving facilities at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch were capacity was not such a problem.


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