Portsmouth trust apologises to patients but has plans to improve care at QA

WE ARE sorry we have failed to provide a high standard of care to our patients.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 1:16 pm
Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham Picture: Shaun Roster Photography

That is the message from the interim chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust Tim Powell following a report into Queen Alexandra Hospital by the Care Quality Commission.

The emergency department of the hospital, which is run by the trust, was rated as inadequate by the CQC following two inspections in February and March this year.

Its medical care, which includes the Medical Assessment Unit, was rated as ‘requires improvement’. The report was published today by the CQC.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Mr Powell took over as interim chief executive following the resignation of former chief executive Ursula Ward on May 27.

He said: ‘We recognise the picture painted by the CQC in this report and we are very sorry that we have failed to provide to our patients, on a consistent basis, the high standards of care that we expect of ourselves.

‘We also apologise for any problems that this, in turn, has caused our health partners, including the local ambulance service.

‘We fully accept the inspector’s findings and we are now working hard to make the improvements that will ensure we have a much more efficient emergency department in future.

‘We have already made some changes and over the coming weeks and months we will be doing more.

‘Our first priority is to ensure patient safety within the emergency department.

‘It will take time to make all of the necessary improvements, but we are determined to ensure that by the time of maximum demand in our emergency department, next winter, our service will be better.’

The hospital has already implemented changes to improve care at its emergency department.

One of the changes includes the new appointment of Dr Rob Haigh as the executive director for the emergency care pathway.

The QA is also using a short-stay unit for people expected to stay in the hospital for up to 72 hours. This is expected to ease pressure on other wards.

Mr Powell added: ‘We have changed the way in which some patients are admitted to the Acute Medical Unit.

‘We are redirecting those patients who do not need the clinical skills of the emergency department team to other pathways and promoting the fact that GPs can refer urgent patients directly to ambulatory services and our outpatients’ clinic.

‘We will also be working to reduce the number of medically-fit patients who are delayed in hospital by making our care more consultant-led, increasing the number of times patient care is reviewed each day by a senior doctor and working more closely with our health and social care community colleagues to remove delays in the patient treatment and discharge pathway.’

Following the inspections earlier this year, the CQC issued the trust with an enforcement notice after raising serious concerns about the A&E department.

The notice had four steps the trust had to meet. Of the four, the trust has already met two of them.

Mr Powell said: ‘We have already taken steps to comply with the enforcement notice issued recently by the CQC.

‘We immediately ensured the large multi-occupancy ambulance, known as the jumbulance, is no longer used.

‘We have appointed senior leader Dr Rob Haigh and we are providing the CQC with daily monitoring information.

‘We will now place greater emphasis upon prioritising tests and investigations, reviews and referrals and will increase the focus on reducing delays to patient discharge.

‘We will work closely with our health system partners and we are progressing our Emergency Care Improvement Programme (ECIP).

‘It focuses on improving performance across both health and social care, helping to further improve outcomes and patient experience as we strive to ensure we provide the very best care for our patients, who should be at the very heart of everything we do.

‘I am confident that together the trust leadership, our hard-working staff and our health partners will make the improvements needed.’

MP George Hollingbery, who represents Meon Valley, said Mr Powell and his team must now do what the CQC wants.

‘This report is very concerning for patients using QA and the situation really does have to improve quickly,’ he said.

‘I’m heartened the trust has apologised for its failings and seems to have a plan to improve accident and emergency care.

‘But, sadly, we have been here before and patience is understandably wearing thin, particularly when you consider MPs from across south Hampshire have been pressing for change for several years now.

‘The acting chief executive and his team must now do exactly what the CQC wants, otherwise the trust runs the clear risk of losing the confidence of residents.

‘Like many other MPs, I will be monitoring the situation closely and will be wanting to see tangible progress in the coming months.’