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Portsmouth trust issued warning notice as CQC deems care ‘unsafe’

The CQC has today told Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust that it must urgently improve after inspectors found that care at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth was unsafe.

It has now issued trust leads a Warning Notice, meaning the trust must urgently improve safety, patient consent, dignity and respect, safeguarding and overall leadership at the hospital.

Inspectors had previously highlighted concerns twice this year, but were disappointed to see that improvements were not being made.

During inspections in February and May, CQC officials found staff “covertly” administering antibiotics in a patient’s food without their knowledge, a practice which is strictly against medical guidelines.

It was also found that the trust had even produced a guide to staff for administering medicine secretly, which even featured a picture of a detective next to the word “covertly”, something the CQC said was “not appropriate”.

There was also a separate incident where inspectors had to intervene to stop a patient choking as staff were slow to react to come to the aid of the person.

The issues at the Queen Alexandra hospital will come as another headache for trust leads after an independent report said that an appointments failure had put around 12,000 patients at risk.

“At previous inspections we have found some very good services at this trust, but during our inspection in February 2017 – we found that the quality of care on the medical wards was very poor – especially for the most vulnerable patients, whose needs were not being dealt with properly, and who were at risk of avoidable harm,” chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker commented.

“There was a distinct lack of management oversight,” Prof Baker continued. “The board appeared to have no real understanding of what was happening on the wards: we concluded that the trust leaders were not giving sufficient attention to many of the concerns we identified or the concerns of their own staff.”

The CQC boss added that Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had been under pressure for some time – as too many beds are taken up by patients who are medically fit for discharge but unable to leave hospital until social care becomes available.  

A set of six conditions have also been placed on the trust that will remain on its registration until it can demonstrate that risks to patients have been removed, and that there is no reason to believe that patients may be exposed to hard.

“We have taken further action by placing specific conditions on the trust that demand clear progress over the coming months,” Prof baker explained. “The trust is required to send us weekly reports, and we have been working closely with NHS Improvement to ensure that the trust gets the support it obviously needs at the highest level.   

“If the trust fails to meet these conditions, or if there is a continuing failure to provide services that are of sufficient quality, we will take further enforcement action to protect patients who depend on these services.” 

Trust chief executive Mark Cubbon admitted that the report made for difficult reading, but that he was confident the trust can do better.

“Since the inspections in February and May the trust has made some significant and important changes, including strengthening the joint working of our doctors and nurses in the emergency department, urgent and medical services,” Cubbon said.

“We have also seen very significant improvements for vulnerable patients, including those who have mental health issues, we have active, early risk assessments in our ED, a Mental Health Liaison Team, working much more closely together and much stronger cross organisation working with colleagues from partnership organisations.

“I am working hard to build stable leadership capability for the trust and am delighted to welcome Dr John Knighton as our new medical director, John brings a lot of experience to the board and has overseen ‘outstanding’ rated services at the trust. More permanent directors will be announced in the coming weeks.”

Top Image: Chris Ison PA Wire

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