Devon hospital told to make improvements after patients put ‘at risk of harm’

Torbay Hospital has been told to make improvements following an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission. Credit: BPM Media

A hospital in Devon has been told to make improvements after patients were put at risk of “avoidable harm”.

The Care Quality Commission carried out an unannounced inspection at Torbay Hospital in December 2021.

They said staff shortages on certain wards - including one set up for Covid patients - meant patients were not always being kept safe.

Cath Campbell, who is the CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said staff complained about being “overworked”.

CQC inspectors said there were staff shortages on three wards - including a Covid ward (pictured: stock image of hospital workers).

‘Didn’t have enough staff’

“We were concerned to find some of the wards didn’t have enough staff to meet the needs of patients, especially those on a dedicated Covid-19 ward,” she said.

“The trust wasn’t able to provide us with evidence that there were enough staff on the ward to monitor patients to keep them safe.

“In addition, staff didn’t always complete risk assessments for each patient to remove or minimise risks to people’s safety. 

“Staff also did not always identify patients at risk of deterioration and act quickly to keep them safe.

Staff at the hospital told inspectors they felt "overworked".

“Staff told us that they felt so overworked they didn’t have time to complete incident forms to let the trust know about the low staffing numbers, because it would mean staying behind after their shift to do so.”

The hospital’s ‘requires improvement’ rating remains in place following the inspection.

‘Ambitious but achievable plans’

But bosses at the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust say immediate improvements have been made.

Chief Executive Liz Davenport explained: “We took a number of actions straight away to make the necessary improvements across not just the wards inspected but also to ensure good practice was shared across all of our wards.

“We also have ambitious but achievable plans to fill 95 per cent of nursing vacancies including speeding up processes particularly for overseas recruitment while ensuring all necessary checks are completed.”

She added the hospital was “challenged” by increased rates of staff sickness at the time of the CQC’s inspection.