Warning after inspectors find 'no tangible improvements' at Worcestershire hospitals trust

Patients waiting on trolleys in corridors has become 'standard practice', inspectors said Credit: ITV News Central

The country’s top health inspector has ordered Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust to make “urgent” changes after finding “no tangible improvements” - despite repeated warnings.

The trust, which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre, is rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

It has also been subject to an official Warning Notice issued in January, which expires at the end of the year, demanding significant progress.

But in a report released on Tuesday, inspectors revealed little evidence of improvement could be seen at the time of their visits in April.

They found:

  • Staff caring for patients in corridors in A&E had become “standard practice”
  • A&E waiting times remain consistently higher than the national average
  • Risk assessment records in medical care wards at Worcestershire Royal Hospital were not routinely completed, including those for elderly patients

The only area rated ‘good’ by inspectors was the caring nature of staff, who were praised for being “hard-working, passionate and caring”.

However, they said, many were left frustrated by poor communication with senior management, which meant they felt unable to directly make any improvements.

The report highlights a number of areas in need of urgent improvement Credit: ITV News Central

Prof Ted Baker, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said he was “concerned” that the trust had not taken sufficient action to address concerns raised in the past.

Patients using services continue to experience a poor level of care.

In our recent inspections we have found there was little effective ownership of the need to establish systems to assess quality of services or to recognise, assess and mitigate risks to patient safety.

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.

– Prof Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, CQC

He said further inspections would be carried out in the near future to monitor the situation.

Speaking to ITV News Central, Trust chief executive Michelle McKay - who was appointed to her post just two weeks before the inspections were carried out - said she was determined to make improvements.

In a written statement issued separately, she apologised to patients, families and carers who had been "let down" by the trust's ongoing issues.

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.

– Michelle McKay, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust

The recommendations from the CQC include:

  • The board must be allowed full oversight of potential risks to patients, including the recognition, assessment, monitoring and mitigation of risk.
  • Patients in A&E must be given their medication at the correct times.
  • All patients’ conditions must be monitored effectively to enable any deterioration to be quickly identified and treated.
  • The privacy and dignity of all patients in A&E must be supported at all times, including when care is provided in corridor areas.
  • Identifiable patient information must be stored securely and not kept on display.
  • All patients in the children and young people’s service with mental health needs must have the appropriate level of staff care.
  • Any missed medication must be reported appropriately to the medical team, including when patients refuse to take prescribed medication.