Hospital where patients were left waiting on trolleys told it must improve

A hospital where patients were left waiting on trolleys and delays were “manipulated” to make them appear less frequent has been told it must improve.

Inspectors from health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) praised staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital but said they were unable to provide the care they wanted to.

The hospital’s chief executive Mark Davies apologised to patients and said winter pressures meant the trust was not “always able to provide the level of service that we would have wanted”.

A report has placed the hospital into special measures, rating it as inadequate overall as well as for the categories of safe and well led.

It was rated as good for the category of caring.

The hospital was inspected in 2017, but following concerns from whistle blowers the CQC conducted a number of unannounced inspections this year including one in March.

“At this inspection we found that the claims that the whistle blowers had made were substantiated,” the report said.

“These included the number of patients waiting in corridors, delays in treatment, delays in admission of patients to beds on wards, an active policy of placing patients in trolleys on wards to await beds and manipulation of the delays through admitting patients who were approaching the 12-hour target rather than those who had already breached the target.

“However, we found that nurses and medical staff remained caring despite a low morale arising from not being able to provide the care they wanted to.”

Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “It is extremely disappointing to see a trust that not only hasn’t improved since our last inspection, but where there has been an obvious deterioration in how the services are run.

“Although staff at the trust were clearly caring and committed to helping patients, and we found some areas of outstanding practice, we were very concerned by how the trust is being led and with many of its systems and processes.”

He said the CQC received a significant number of reports through whistle blowing following its initial inspection, and this “showed that a bullying culture remained at the trust, and one of fear of reprisal amongst staff if they should raise concerns”.

He said the hospital must make improvements, including in bed management and site management to increase capacity and patient flow.

Processes for whistleblowing must be reviewed and the trust’s leadership must improve the culture, openness and transparency throughout the organisation, he added.

He noted there were some areas of outstanding practice, including the management of stroke patients.

Mark Davies, the hospital’s chief executive, said: “We thank the CQC for their report and have accepted its findings.

“Lack of capacity and sustained high levels of demand over winter put our services under extreme pressure and I would like to apologise to our patients that we were not always able to provide the level of service that we would have wanted.

“The NHS has been through one of the longest, toughest winters on record and I would like to thank staff across all professions and support services at the trust for everything they have done, and continue to do, for our patients and colleagues.”

He said the hospital was continuing to work on improvements in line with CQC recommendations.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jeremy Durkin / PA Wire.