Bedford Hospital NHS Trust has been heavily criticised in a report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after it inspected the hospital last month.
The CQC has told Bedford Hospital it must make urgent improvements to comply with the national standards of quality and safety.
This follows unannounced inspections at Bedford Hospital in South Wing, Kempston Road, Bedford, on 3, 4, and 9 July 2013.
The inspections were carried out in response to concerns that some of the national standards of quality and safety were not being met at the hospital.
Inspectors assessed the national standards relating to respecting and involving people who use services, care and welfare of people who use services, meeting nutritional needs, cooperating with other providers, safeguarding people who use services from abuse, staffing, supporting workers and assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision - and found none of these were being met.
The inspectors found that:
- The trust failed to take appropriate steps to ensure there were sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff on duty in all areas of the hospital.
- Prior to the inspection, concerns had been raised by Health Education England (HEE) about the level of consultant cover available within paediatric services, and the impact this had on trainee doctors.
- In the stroke unit, no replacement plans or handover arrangements had been made regarding the departure of two consultants. In addition, the unit had no up to date policies, procedures or guidance for new staff.
- During CQC’s overnight visit to the A&E unit, patients told inspectors they had experienced long delays, and had not been kept informed of what was happening with their care.
- In addition, there were two red risks recorded in the A&E risk register, relating to a lack of consultants and staff shortages. There was no evidence to show how these issues were being addressed.
- At ward level, the system for escalating concerns was weak and did not demonstrate effective responses to the identified issues.
CQC has now issued formal warnings to the trust regarding these standards and has told the trust that urgent improvements are required.
Andrea Gordon, deputy director of operations (regions) for CQC, said: “Although our inspectors saw some good practice, the failings we found at Bedford Hospital are a real concern.
“CQC has been working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people receiving this service and we have told the trust changes need to be made.
“We have been working closely with our partner agencies with regard to the trust and we will be closely monitoring its progress on the improvements it needs to make.
“Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find the required progress is not made we won’t hesitate to take further action where necessary.”
Acting chief executive Stephen Conroy said: “I think it’s important to note that this was the first hospital to be visited under a new regime by the CQC.
“There is a lot more focus on being good 100 per cent of the time, rather than most of the time. So although in previous visits there were no major concerns, this visit was under a new set of guidelines.”
Regarding the paediatrics situation at the hospital Mr Conroy told us that the trust is working to bring some paediatric services back to Bedford Hospital in time for winter, while a long-term plan for the future is set to go to public consultation.
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