Colchester Hospital chiefs take measures to address CQC concerns

Colchester Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Colchester Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Hospital chiefs claim to have taken immediate action to address the significant concerns about patient treatment, leadership and staff morale identified by inspectors last month.

At a board meeting Colchester Hospital University NHS foundation Trust discussed the steps taken in response to demands made by Professor Sir Mike Richards following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection on November 12.

In a letter to the Trust, Sir Mike, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, identified concerns with Accident and Emergency (A&E) and Emergency Admissions Unit (EAU), which he said warranted immediate attention.

“We witnessed times when patients were not treated with dignity and respect,” he wrote.

“These included insufficient uses of curtains and covers in A&E and negative or abrupt manners in both units.”

The letter also noted cases where there was “no record that all appropriate assessments had been carried out” and expressed “significant concerns” about how decisions in attempting patient resuscitation were managed.

“In both A&E and EAU we found that leadership of these areas was below an acceptable standard,” the letter added.

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“Morale amongst staff was generally low.”

Sir Mike said action to address the concerns “should not wait until receipt of our report”, which is why the letter was sent to the Trust’s chief executive Dr Lucy Moore in advance of the report’s publication.

A report titled CQC Improvement Plan, which was produced by the Trust for its board meeting on Thursday, said it took “immediate action to re-establish a safe and less pressured environment in A&E and EAU”.

It said the 13-day “major incident” declared at the hospital the day after the inspection, had been carried out to reduce beds in EAU so that the remaining patients received an “appropriate level of safe, caring and effective care”.

The report also highlighted “significant steps” taken to reduce nurse vacancies and said there was an “active recruitment campaign” to increase the number of nursing staff.

The poor compliance identified by the CQC in relation to infection control was also said to have been addressed through “immediate measures”, including spot checks, weekly reports and training.

The hospital’s deputy chief operating officer has been deployed “with the clear and sole focus on the emergency care pathway” as a means to tackle the CQC’s concerns over leadership, the report said.

The patient experience and staff working conditions “will be significantly improved” by the measures carried out, it added.

Trust chairman Peter Wilson, in a letter to the CQC, wrote: “All our collective energy and skills will be focused on delivering the required improvements in the shortest possible timeframe and in a manner which is sustainable across the Trust.”

The report noted that a further visit by the CQC on November 27 “reported a remarkable change in the environment in A&E and EAU”.