QA Hospital praised in report but chief executive says further improvements are needed

QA Hospital. Picture: Will Caddy

Hospital boss warns of ‘great pressure’ at Portsmouth A&E in busiest weekend before Christmas

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The trust behind Queen Alexandra Hospital has said there is still a lot to do to improve the emergency department.

But new chief executive Tim Powell, who was appointed this year after previously being the interim, praised the staff and all those involved for their hard work in the past year.

I am proud of the efforts that they have made in improving the services we provide.

Tim Powell

It comes as an inspection by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission has seen A&E in Cosham, no longer rated ‘inadequate’.

The facility, which was given the lowest rating following an inspection in April last year, is now considered ‘requires improvement’ after a follow-up inspection in September.

Two of the criteria looked at, to see if Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA is effective and caring, were rated ‘good’.

Mr Powell said: ‘We and our partners across the local healthcare system have worked extremely hard to make the necessary improvements outlined by the CQC following its previous inspection.

‘We’re pleased these have been acknowledged in the report.

‘In particular this recognises the huge contribution from staff across the hospital and in particular those who work across our emergency and medical services.

‘I’m proud of the efforts that they have made in improving the services we provide.’

He added: ‘We all recognise there is still much to do in order to deliver further improvements for our patients, staff and partners at South Central Ambulance Service.

‘I remain confident the combined leadership efforts of everyone across our local health care system will support those improvements.

‘As always, our first priority is to ensure we continuously provide the very best care for our patients, who are at the very heart of everything we do.’

QA Hospital was praised in the report for its compliance with an enforcement notice placed on the trust last year. It has since been lifted.

Looking forward, the CQC had recommendations on how the department can improve further following some issues seen during the visit.

The inspector noticed there were occasions when patients had to wait outside in ambulances, although these were rare and for shorter periods of time than previously.

They saw there were delays, caused by a lack of empty beds on wards, which sometimes resulted in a crowded department.

The report said the trust must ensure:

n All equipment is maintained and is ready and safe to use.

n Staffing at weekends does not have a detrimental effect on patients’ flow through the hospital and discharge planning.

n There is adequate medical cover at all times, including cover in escalation areas and the winter pressures ward.

n Serious incidents are investigated in a detailed and comprehensive manner.

n Length of stay on the short-stay ward meets the trust target of less than 72 hours.

Professor Edward Baker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals in the south, praised the efforts put in by the trust.

He said: ‘I’m aware that PHT has been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny regarding its accident and emergency department.

‘Despite this, it has concentrated its efforts to provide sustainable improvements.

‘While there is still further improvement needed, we considered the trust had met the urgent conditions imposed on its registration last year.

‘We have therefore lifted these conditions.

‘The trust leadership recognises there is still a significant amount of work to do and that systems need to be embedded to ensure long-term improvement.

‘They have assured us that the trust will continue to work to ensure further improvements are made.’

He added the CQC will be monitoring the trust’s progress closely and will check the improvements are being sustained.

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said she is confident the trust can improve further.

‘These are still early days as it’s only six months after the first CQC inspection and it will take time to address the commission’s concerns 
in a number of areas,’ she said.

‘I’m confident, after speaking to chief executive Tim Powell and the director of emergency care Rob Haigh last week, that the trust is moving the hospital forward, but it needs to improve faster.

‘Until it does, people will be rightly concerned about the standard of care they might receive and trust with patients risks being lost if the situation does not improve.’

Mrs Drummond praised the staff for their efforts while A&E faces huge demand.

She added: ‘It’s important to say how hard all the staff are working and the CQC report states that there is good, effective and caring services in A&E.

‘It is vital senior management listen to staff on the front line as they will have the best ideas to improve the emergency department and medical care.’