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Inspectors say significant delays to treatment and patients in corridors ‘cannot continue’ at Blackpool hospital

Significant delays and severe pressures at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s emergency department has forced CQC inspectors to state that the practice “simply cannot continue” at its current level.

In an unrated inspection of the hospital, the CQC criticised the layout and poor flow of patients through the service, which was leading to overcrowding and “significant delays in patients being treated” despite staff staying long past their shifts to support the service.

A total of seven healthcare professionals at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been arrested by police in the last year on suspicion of administering poison to patients “with the intent to injure,” and inspectors acknowledged the “substantial challenges” facing the service.

But Ellen Armistead, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said “some of the practice we witnessed simply cannot continue,” and that major concerns from previous inspections, when the trust’s safety was rated ‘inadequate’, remain a concern.

There were several cases of patients being cared for in corridors where there was no effective way of maintaining dignity, and inspectors noted that few staff were monitoring the patients sat on the floor of the waiting area, meaning their health could deteriorate quickly.

The CQC said it was also concerned that patients being admitted to the emergency department were not fully assessed prior to admission.

Despite it being clear the service was experiencing pressure, inspectors said they found some outstanding practice, with staff showing “remarkable resilience” in the face of challenging patient attitudes.

They praised the “outstanding” practice, which included one nurse who “remained kind and compassionate despite a patient screaming in their face after being in the department for 17 hours,” and doctors said there was a culture of teaching and support which enabled them to implement an update service for staff.

But inspectors said the trust did not have a strong oversight of mental health provision and performance in the department, and staff acknowledged that there was a lack of resources.

The trust was recently awarded more than £11m by the government to develop a new emergency village to address its capacity issues, but the trust said it was “clear the CQC exposes areas of genuine concern” and committed to addressing them as a priority.

Armistead commented: “Significant delays across the service and additional pressures slowing down the flow of patients through it meant some patients were not provided treatment in a timely manner.

“The trust was working hard to develop and implement changes to address some of our findings and we will be returning to inspect again soon.”

Kevin McGee, interim chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, said the NHS was experiencing increased demand nationally during the time of inspection, but that the report provides a snapshot of how the hospital’s services work and when staff are under the highest level of pressure.


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