Understaffed, 14-hour waits, and medics ‘under siege’: Queen’s Hospital’s A&E unit still ‘failing local people’, CQC says
00:00 10 July 2013
Queen’s Hospital’s harried emergency department continues to “fail local people”, a scathing report by a health watchdog found today.
Queen’s Hospital: ‘We need help dealing with increasing A&E admissions’
Chief executive Averil Dongworth said: “We are dealing with an ever-increasing demand on our services. Recent figures show that Queen’s now receives around 110 ambulances a day – more than any other hospital in London and almost 15 per cent more than a year ago.
“And with a 17 per cent rise in the number of Havering residents calling an ambulance in the past 12 months, we need to be working closely with London Ambulance Service and our community colleagues to get to the bottom of this complex situation.
“Recruiting and retaining high quality, permanent doctors in the emergency department has been a major challenge. In partnership with Barts Health, we will be making five new joint appointments, which will make a major contribution to addressing this problem in the future.
“We will be working with NHS partners including the Clinical Commissioning Groups and London Ambulance Service, to address the long-standing causes behind the demand on our services and our poor performance in responding to it.”
Care Quality Commission (CQC) have issued a formal warning to hospital chiefs after finding the A&E, in Rom Valley Way, Romford, failed to meet two of the three national standards reviewed, including the care and welfare of people, and staffing.
However, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, was praised for its record-keeping.
Patients who arrived by ambulance waited “too long” to be assessed, with some languishing 14 hours in A&E before being moved onto wards, the report said.
The damning revelations follow two days of unannounced visits in May and come on the back of “major concerns” identified in December.
“Fundamental problems” raised as far back as 2011 had not been resolved, the CQC warned, and include inadequate numbers of doctors, and unacceptable delays in specialists seeing A&E admissions.
Last week the Romford Recorder reported Queen’s receives 110 ambulances a day - more than any other casualty unit in London. Overstretched staff told investigators they felt “under siege” by the huge numbers of patients coming through the doors.
However, Inspectors did find there had been improvements in the availability of food and drink and delivery of personal care while patients waited to be seen.
Widely-criticised plans to close the nearby King George A&E unit in Ilford and transfer services to an enlarged Queen’s department remain in place, regional health planners confirmed this week, although a date has not been set.
Inspectors from CQC, which monitors, inspects and regulates health services in England, have now ordered the trust to make urgent improvements by August 2.
Matthew Trainer, regional director of CQC in London, said: “The emergency department at Queen’s Hospital in Romford is failing local people. This situation has been going on for far too long. Radical thinking is needed...to make sure patients get the care they deserve.
“Patients are entitled to be treated in services which are safe, effective, caring, well-run, and responsive to their needs.
“We have seen several recovery plans come and go in the emergency department at Queen’s and there is little evidence of any impact.”
Turst chief executive, Averil Dongworth, said: “We share the concerns of the CQC that too many patients are waiting too long in our emergency department.
“While I am pleased that it acknowledged that improvements have been made with personal care and the way we look after patients, this does not address the larger issues of waiting times and staffing.
“We have been working tirelessly to improve the situation so that we can provide our patients with the best possible care.”
Dr Atul Aggarwal, chairman of Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and also speaking on behalf of neighbouring CCGs in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham, said: “Significant changes need to happen and they need to happen now. Patients are still waiting too long – in ambulances and in A&E - to be assessed and to receive the care they need. This isn’t acceptable and it has to change.
“We have a new, robust contract in place with the trust and we monitor this closely through weekly and monthly review meetings. As strong GP commissioners we won’t hesitate to take appropriate action where we feel it is needed.’
“Working together, the CCGs, the trust, local authorities, London Ambulance Service and other providers have set up a new urgent care board to review urgent and emergency care services at hospitals and in the community, so people can get the help they need at the right place and at the right time. By doing this, our objective is to relieve some of the pressure on local A&E departments.”