Recruit more nurses - the hospital is ‘unsafe’

Weston Hospital.

Weston Hospital. - Credit: Archant

WESTON General Hospital has been ordered to recruit more nurses after a surprise inspection exposed fears that staff shortages are making the hospital ‘unsafe’.

Experts from the Care Quality Commission visited the Grange Road site in a follow-up to an earlier inspection where the hospital had failed to meet standards in a number of key areas.

Yet inspectors say they are concerned to have again found ‘the same failings in all of the patient areas we visited’.

Shortcomings include a failure to respect patients’ privacy and dignity, a failure to show consideration and respect to vulnerable patients, and a failure to ensure patients’ welfare and safety.

The report goes on to quote a doctor and a nurse who say they feel overstretched resources have left staffing levels ‘unsafe’ for patients – a suggestion strongly refuted by the hospital’s chief executive.

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The nurse said hospital bosses’ decision not to replace a transferred colleague had left her department undermanned, while the doctor pinpointed two occasions when there had been no nurses available to triage new patients in the A&E department.

The CQC report said: “This means patients with potentially life-threatening illnesses might not have received appropriate treatment in sufficient time.”

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The 27-page dossier also provides a number of direct examples from patients who were left feeling ‘humiliated’ or ignored by hospital staff.

Ian Biggs, regional director of CQC in the South, said: “When we last inspected Weston General Hospital we found that all too often, patients’ privacy and dignity were not properly respected – and it is a matter of concern that we have found the same failings in all of the patient areas we visited.

“We heard too many stories of people who weren’t getting the help they needed, or whose appeals for assistance went unanswered, and who were left humiliated or simply left to wait.

“We were told how staff were overstretched, that assessments weren’t being made in time, records weren’t being kept properly and patients haven’t been receiving the care they need.”

Weston Area Health NHS Trust has been given two formal warnings and told to make improvements in five of the six fields under scrutiny.

The one area it escaped criticism was in the quality of staff recruited, with one patient adding ‘it’s not the nursing staff, they are brilliant, it is the way they are managed’.

However, the quantity of staff must be increased, says the CQC, after the report concluded there was ‘not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs’.

The trust has already begun to tackle this problem by recruiting 62 new nurses who are expected to be in post by September.

Chief executive Nick Wood said: “Staff here were shocked by some of the findings of the CQC inspectors and we have taken immediate action to improve care.

“While the hospital has been under intense pressure over the winter this is not an excuse for poor standards. We have taken decisive action to rectify the situation.

“Weston is a safe hospital.

“Although disappointing, we are grateful to the CQC for highlighting areas where we need to concentrate efforts.

“We are all determined to raise standards.”

Mr Biggs said the CQC will return shortly to ensure improvements are being made.

He said: “We have told the trust to show us how it will address these issues and make the necessary improvements.

“We will return unannounced in the near future to check that it has made those changes.”

To read the full CQC report, click on the link on the top right-hand side of this page.

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