Improvements needed for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals emergency departments

The Care Quality Commission inspected the emergency departments in January and found both need to ma

The Care Quality Commission inspected the emergency departments in January and found both need to make improvements. Picture: Paul Bennett - Credit: Paul Bennett

Important improvements are needed in the A&E departments at Queen’s and King George hospitals.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the body which regulates hospital care, carried out unannounced inspections in January at the two departments run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) and both have been rated as Requires Improvement.

The inspections were undertaken in response to concerning information the CQC had received in relation to care of patients in the emergency departments at Queen's, Romford, and King George, Goodmayes.

At the time of CQC's inspection the departments were both under severe pressure.

At Queen's, the trust found that the hospital needed to ensure that the paediatric emergency department is adequately staffed with registered children's nurses and that patients in the Majors B waiting area are adequately monitored and managed to be supported to stay safe.

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The hospital was also advised to work on appointing a clinical lead for the service, improving oversight of actual time to triage of patients arriving in the department through the streaming service.

It was also advised to try to meet the A&E four-hour seeing time more frequently as well as reducing ambulance handover times and improving the flow of patients out of A&E.

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In King George Hospital the trust was told it must ensure that all clinical areas are kept clean and tidy at all times, that all staff are aware of safeguarding and chaperoning policies for children and vulnerable adults and ensure that these policies are followed.

It also must ensure patients in the Fit2Sit area are adequately monitored and managed to be supported to stay safe and that all fire exits and fire fighting equipment are clearly marked and free from clutter.

Interim chief executive at BHRUT Tony Chambers said: 'The results of these inspections are disappointing and we are taking them very seriously.

'We will reflect on the findings, take action, and increase our focus on what we do, day in and day out, to ensure that the experience of our patients and our staff is as positive as possible.

'Like many trusts, our emergency departments have been under intense pressure. However, we recognise there are steps we can take to improve care for our patients.'

The chief executive explained the trust has immediately put in place a number of measures to address some of the issues, including more robust leadership of the emergency departments and additional staffing support.

It will also be introducing a frailty unit at Queen's Hospital to reduce the number of elderly patients in A&E, following the introduction of a successful unit at King George Hospital.

'We're also working closely with our staff and local health partners on longer-term measures for additional support and expertise to drive and maintain improvements in key areas, including patient care,' he added.

He said that the Care Quality Commission is being kept up-to-date with progress and inspectors will visit to reassess the A&E departments in the coming weeks.

The CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: 'I am well aware that emergency departments are under pressure at this time of the year and that those pressures may increase in the near future.

'However, there are some areas where BHRUT can improve the care it provides in its emergency departments.

'Keeping clinical areas clean and tidy at all times should be achievable with very little effort by the trust as should keeping fire exits free of clutter.'

MP for Ilford North, Wes Streeting commented on the recent inspection saying: 'I am concerned that some of the weaknesses identified are a direct result of the immense pressures on the NHS in terms of demand from patients, resources provided to the NHS, and the challenges of recruiting the right staff.

'Even without the added risks of a coronavirus pandemic, the NHS struggles to cope with winter pressures. The government has to take responsibility and give our hospitals the funding and resources they need to provide the level of service our community needs and expects.'

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