THE emergency department at the Royal Blackburn Hospital has made several improvements in recent months, according to a health regulator.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which issued two formal warnings to the hospital in October, said it has since addressed failings around the ‘care and welfare of people who use the service’.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust remains in special measures, however, with the CQC still waiting to see evidence of improvements on two other indicators.

In a report published yesterday, inspectors said the trust had stopped using extra beds in the surgical day case areas at busy times. In the previous visit last July, staff had reported difficulties in getting doctors to review these beds, where ‘additional patients’ were sometimes left waiting for hours in chairs or trolleys due to a lack of beds.

But after last month’s inspection the CQC said this had ceased, with patients no longer sent to wards regardless of whether a bed was available. The watchdog added: “When the hospital was full, patients assessed as ‘fit for discharge’ were asked to vacate their bed. Whilst this practice may cause inconvenience to some patients, the impact and risk to patients who required admission was minimised.”

The inspectors also noted how staff in A&E and multi-assessment unit now worked ‘efficiently and effectively’ to move patients through and reduce delays, while there had been a ‘marked improvement’ in staff morale and support from management.

New concerns about delays in the paediatric area were ‘not supported by evidence’, the inspectors added, although staff felt there would not be enough paediatric nurses to cover for absences.

Jonathan Wood, deputy chief executive at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, welcomed the report, adding: “We have increased staffing levels within the department and made sure that our staff are supported to improve treatment and care planning, flow of patients from the emergency department to wards, and interaction with patients.”