‘Frail and elderly’ patients left undressed and nurses overstretched at Queen Alexandra Hospital A&E department, finds new CQC inspection report

The A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (14131-3)
The A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (14131-3)
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INSPECTORS assessing the city’s A&E found limited hand washing and elderly patients being left in unacceptable states of undress.  

Bosses at Queen Alexandra Hospital have been told they must stamp out problems after an unannounced inspection of the site’s emergency department in February.

Mark Cubbon, who is in charge of Queen Alexandra Hospital. Picture: Malcolm Wells.

Mark Cubbon, who is in charge of Queen Alexandra Hospital. Picture: Malcolm Wells.

In a report released today, the Care Quality Commission said the hospital has improved since it was visited a year ago but ruled there is still work to be done. 

Findings from the latest inspection, which was unrated, reveal ‘very limited clinical leadership’ of the department – with the nurse-in-charge overstretched and patients being handed between five different nurses without receiving treatment. 

It also found some patients, including those who were ‘frail and elderly’, did not have their dignity and privacy protected and were seen getting changed behind ‘half-closed cubicle curtains’. 

Dr Nigel Acheson, CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals for the south, said: ‘When we visited the Queen Alexandra Hospital emergency department we did see improvements from previous inspections although clearly there is still work to be done.’ 

He added: ‘The trust’s work to reduce pressures on the emergency department are welcome – but we note that patient movement through the department is still a problem during busy times and this must be addressed.

‘We will continue to monitor the trust closely and will return to inspect again soon.’ 

Mark Cubbon, the chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust which runs the site, said the inspection came at a time when the hospital ‘was under considerable pressure’.

‘In February alone, we saw over 1,300 more patients in our ED than in the same period last year,' he said. 

‘This is the reality of the challenges facing our staff working day to day in our urgent care services.

‘However we fully recognise that it is not acceptable for any patient to wait longer than they should and no matter what the operational pressures, our focus on patient care and experience must remain paramount.

‘In particular every one of our patients should be treated with dignity and respect at all times. Anything less is unacceptable.’ 

In its report the CQC praised the hospital for introducing dedicated training time and for the noticeable improvement in the relationship between trust leadership and department staff. 

A central part of the site’s aim to tackle remaining issues , Mr Cubbon said, are plans to build a new emergency department – which last year got a £58m government boost. 

He also said the department has been working with partners to ensure there are a ‘range of alternatives’ to it for patients, including those who require ongoing care.

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan said the CQC’s findings ‘come as no surprise’.

He added: ‘I commend the hard work of the staff at the Queen Alexandra and have every confidence in their ability to improve to the level required by the people of Portsmouth.’