GO NOW: East Lancashire patients’ champion calls for hospitals’ board to quit after new ‘failures’ (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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GO NOW: East Lancashire patients’ champion calls for hospitals’ board to quit after new ‘failures’
EAST Lancashire’s patients’ champion has called for the whole of the hospitals’ trust board to quit after a second damning report into the Royal Blackburn.
The hospital, already in special measures, has today received two ‘formal warnings’ about its A&E department from the Care Quality Commission after a three-day inspection.
The watchdog’s unannounced visit, which followed concerns from a ‘whistleblower’, found the hospital’s emergency services to be failing three out of the four national standards examined.
Russ McLean, of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, has called for a ‘clean sweep of the board’, saying bosses should have done more to listen to the concerns of patients and families. A SECOND major inspection at Royal Blackburn Hospital has raised serious concerns about emergency care and led to a call for its board to resign.
The authority which runs the hospital is already in special measures, but a new report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has today piled more pressure on board members.
The watchdog’s unannounced inspection, which followed concerns from a ‘whistleblower’, found the hospital’s emergency services to be failing on three out of the four standards examined.
The inspectors noted:
- Patients’ dignity not being respected, including not using privacy curtains.
- People waiting all day for operations only for them to be cancelled in the evening.
- Instances of poor care and record-keeping.
- Inadequate patient assessment and risk management.
- Occasions when patients were being treated without the use of privacy curtains.
- A lack of formal children’s safeguarding training among staff in A&E.
The findings come as new figures show the number of people waiting for outpatient appointments and inpatient treatments at East Lancashire’s hospitals was at its highest in four years.
The inspectors’ three-day visit in late July came just eight days after East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust was placed in special measures following publication of the Keogh report into failing hospitals.
Hospital chief Mark Brearley has apologised, but said the trust has already started implementing improvement plans. Although the CQC avoided any direct blame of board members, it said the trust was ‘well aware’ of some of the problems.
It warned of ‘regulatory action’ if concerns were not addressed, which in the most serious cases can result in services being suspended or cancelled.
Russ McLean, chair of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “Let’s not beat about the bush here, all of the issues which have been identified are management issues, and I am sick and tired of front-line staff bearing the brunt for management inadequacies.
“It’s time for a clean sweep of the board. They are still not hearing the views of those who have little choice but to use their services.”
Many of the CQC’s concerns centred on the trust’s ‘escalation policy’, when extra beds are opened during surges in patients.
Although the measure was intended for occasional ‘extreme’ bed pressures, such as the winter months, the inspectors said it was used ‘routinely’.
On the first day of the three-day visit, staff reported difficulties in getting doctors to review the escalation patients, who were sometimes ‘forgotten’.
They said patients who were not deemed as acutely ill as others were labelled as ‘additional patients’ and regularly left in chairs or on trolleys due to a lack of beds.
Staff also cited examples where patients had arrived early for day surgery, which had been delayed throughout the day through a lack of beds, and finally cancelled.
The inspectors also observed one female patient, who had come through A&E, left sitting on a chair for more than seven hours, despite her records stating she suffered from oedema, or fluid build up in her legs and ankles, meaning her legs should be elevated several times a day. She had no access to a nurse call buzzer and was wearing ‘inappropriate clothing, with no curtains around her.
The CQC has issued two formal warnings to the trust and will return, unannounced, to check necessary improvements have been made.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “This again highlights what I said would happen when they decided to close the A&E ward at Burnley. It was plainly obvious that Blackburn wasn’t big enough to take the extra load of patients. The place is swamped and the chickens have come home to roost now.”
However, he said trust chief executive Mark Brearley, who has been in the job two years, should be given more time to turn things around.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “This has been a very traumatic time for the hospital and especially for A&E staff, who have been working under incredible pressure.”
Malcolm Bower-Brown, the CQC’s regional director, said: “The issues we identified at the Royal Blackburn Hospital are a real concern and the trust must take further action to ensure national standards are met.
“We will not hesitate to take further regulatory action, should this be necessary to ensure patients receive the quality of care and support they are entitled to expect.”
Mr Brearley said: “We have taken the concerns raised within this report very seriously and have an action plan in place that we have shared with the CQC.”
He said plans were in place for safeguarding training, improved patient risk assessments, 59 additional beds across Burnley and Blackburn and clear monitoring to the trust board. A matron has also been identified to oversee the escalation areas, while 70 new nursing staff have been recruited.
He added: “The quality of care and ensuring the dignity and safety of all our patients is the number one priority for us.”
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