The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which provides medical services to around 570,000 of Worcester’s inhabitants, has been placed in special measures following a report published by the Care Quality Commission on 2 December 2015.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the hospitals under care of the Trust in July of this year and found that overall; services provided by the hospitals were inadequate. The hospitals under care of the Trust that were flagged up by the CQC to be inadequate are the Alexandra Hospital and the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, with the Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre being deemed to require improvement.
One of the major findings of the CQC report is that there are significant staffing problems in the Trust’s hospitals, with many departments being heavily understaffed on a daily basis. The report details that the departments suffering most from understaffing are the Emergency, Gynaecology and Paediatric departments. In fact, in November last year all births and obstetric in-patient services were transferred from the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital on the grounds that a shortage of staff in these departments was making them unsafe to run. These services continue to be provided by Worcestershire Royal Hospital pending a review by the Care Quality Commission early in this New Year (2016).
It is not only inpatient care that is being affected by the staffing problems at the Trust, the report also found that there are significant delays in seeing and treating outpatients which has resulted in a back log of referrals at the Trust. Concerns were also raised by the CQC that there is not enough Consultant cover in the emergency departments which is resulting in delays of patients being seen in Accident and Emergency and subsequently a delay in providing them potentially critical treatment. When staffing levels were below national guidelines, agency nurses and locum doctors had been sought but this has resulted in an inconsistency in applying hospital procedure and is by no means a long term solution.
Despite considering the Trust’s medical services at present to be inadequate, the CQC commended the staff working at the hospitals for their care and the outstanding levels of support, particularly in the Gynaecology and Paediatric departments where levels of staffing appear at their lowest.
If you have suffered as a result of the problems faced at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, or any other Trust, then please contact our Clinical Negligence Department on 01772 552230 who will be happy to discuss your concerns with you.