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04.09.15

CQC takes ‘urgent action’ against Colchester Hospital

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has used its urgent enforcement powers to protect people using services at Colchester Hospital after an inspection revealed numerous shortcoming and staffing problems.

Following an inspection on 8 July, the CQC told Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust to make improvements to the quality of the healthcare provided to patients who use surgery and medical care inpatient wards at Colchester Hospital. 

Inspectors returned to the hospital on 14 July 2015 to conduct an inspection at night after further concerns were raised relating to staffing and care provided to patients at night time.                

The CQC took enforcement action against the trust as a result of the findings from these inspections. This enforcement action meant the trust must take action to deal with the staffing issues and to ensure that patients are protected from the risk of harm. 

However, the CQC said the trust failed to demonstrate that it was implementing an “effective system” to ensure that bank, agency and redeployed staff were inducted and assessed as suitably competent, skilled and experienced to work on the wards upon which they were deployed. 

Inspectors will return in September 2015 to determine if improvements have been made. 

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “I am concerned that Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has not taken sufficient action to address the requirements of our previous inspections, and that patients using surgery and medical care inpatient wards at Colchester Hospital continue to experience a poor level of care and treatment. 

The trust is already in special measures and we have informed Monitor of these breaches, and of our action. Staffing continues to be a problem. There was not enough staff on the inpatient wards to meet the needs of patients.” 

He added that if the trust fails to make sufficient progress “I have no doubt that we will take further enforcement action to protect the interests of the people who rely on this service”. 

Responding to the latest CQC report, Dr Lucy Moore, the trust’s chief executive, said that a recruitment plan is in place which will see a full establishment in its nursing teams by the end of March 2016. 

“I am confident of the huge effort from all staff to drive improvement, their strong desire and determination to change, and their awareness of the issues and challenges,” she said.  “However, there is more to do to tackle the inconsistency of care that we provide.” 

Dr Thomas Nutt, chief executive of Healthwatch Essex, added that it was “disappointing” to see findings such as these highlighted by the CQC. 

“Healthwatch Essex has been working with the Trust for some time, and this report suggests that previously-known problems such as staffing levels and administration are continuing to impact upon patient experience,” he said. 

“We know that Colchester Hospital is on a long journey of improvement, and Healthwatch Essex will continue to work with the Trust through the Improvement Board, and other ways, to ensure that patient experience at the heart of care.” 

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