Patient lay dead for nearly five hours at Birmingham hospital from low staffing

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A patient lay dead for almost five hours on a ward at a Birmingham hospital due to staff shortages, a report has revealed.

The report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield has struggled with staffing due to the pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic and its effect on staffing at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust was also highlighted.An inspection was carried out at the trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Good Hope Hospital, Heartlands Hospital, and Solihull Hospital in December.All sites were reviewed apart from the Solihull Hospital.

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CQC officials found that at the Good Hope Hospital deceased patients were "not always transported from the wards in a timely manner".An example of this was a patient, who had passed away at 6.45am, but by 11.35am had still not been removed due to low staffing levels.The report stated: "This was reported by several staff members and it caused them distress."The inspection also highlighted how another patient at the same hospital died after a "potentially avoidable" fall.

Other findings by CQC inspectors at the three hospitals included:

  • Not enough nursing staff to keep patients safe, with one nurse having to care for as many as 17 patients.

  • Patients who had been Covid negative on admission were put on Covid positive wards.

  • Staff frequently worked "long" hours beyond their 12-hour shifts to ensure patients were safe.

  • Some relatives had complained that patients were discharged "in a worse condition than when they were admitted.

Recommendations have been made to the Trust by the CQC, including ensuring that nurse staffing is adequate to keep patients safe.The have said it was 'aware' of the issues raised in the report and recognise them as 'requiring further work and this is ongoing'.

At the time of the inspections, the Trust and our amazing staff were 10 months into a pandemic response with over 450 Covid inpatients on the days the inspections took place, rising to 1,054 Covid inpatients during January. The effort of our staff to provide care to what is now well over 11,000 Covid in-patients...has been and remains quite extraordinary. It continues to be our focus.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson