Worcestershire Hospital Trust Warned Over Child Safety

A hospital trust in Worcestershire has been issued with a warning after inspectors found its accident and emergency departments were understaffed and children's security was put at risk.

Worcestershire Royal Hospital hit the headlines in April after a shortage of beds resulted in some patients being treated in corridors, while a senior doctor usually deployed only in cases of major disaster had to be sent in to help.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said an unannounced inspection carried out there in March - and at the trust's Alexandra Hospital in Redditch - found delays in handovers from ambulance crews, a shortage of nursing and senior medical staff, and concerns about safeguarding procedures concerning children and the management of medicines.

Releasing its report, the regulator said the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, has acted to protect patients' welfare by placing a condition on the trust's registration, stating that it must ensure appropriately skilled and qualified staff assess patients on their arrival at Worcestershire Royal Hospital's A&E and that patients receive a safe and prompt handover from the ambulance service.

The trust must also make immediate improvements with regard to security relating to children being cared for at both hospitals and to staffing levels and the maintenance of equipment at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Prof Richards said: ``Our inspectors were concerned at what they found in the emergency departments at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. We found there were delays in handovers from ambulance crews, there was a shortage of nursing and senior medical staff and we had concerns about safeguarding procedures concerning children and the management of medicines.

``This is why we took immediate action. Our team gave feedback on their findings to the trust as soon as they had finished their inspection and this was quickly followed by CQC issuing warning notices and placing a condition on the trust's registration.

``Our inspectors will return to the trust unannounced at a future date to check on whether improvements have been made. If improvements are not made we will consider what further action we need to take.

``Significant work is needed to improve services at the trust so that it meets the standards people have a right to expect.

``The trust knows what it now needs to do to ensure change takes place.''

West Midlands Ambulance Service were forced to send their own medical incident officer (MIO) to help beleaguered staff at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital in April.

The trust said the circumstances were ''less than ideal'' but the problem had been caused by pressures across the health system meaning it simply could not discharge patients quickly enough, resulting in a backlog.

On any given day the trust said about 70 patients are waiting to be discharged but only about 15 are going, because of delays getting home and putting nursing care packages in place for after they leave.

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