Staff at QA can be proud – but the job is not finished

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In the nicest, most polite sense possible, we could have told you so. And so could the majority of our readers.

The ratings given to Queen Alexandra Hospital today by the Care Quality Commission are official confirmation of what we have reported for many months now.

In a nutshell, the accident and emergency department, like many across the country, is problematic, but the attitude, skill, and above all caring nature of the staff is abundantly clear to all visitors.

That’s why QA gives the answer ‘outstanding’ to the inspectors’ question: ‘Are services caring’.

And if you read the letters page of The News, you’ll know that on an almost daily basis we feature messages of gratitude from people across the area, praising not just QA but many other parts of the health service, from paramedics to GPs.

We agree with Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who highlights the importance of government inspections looking at more than just finances – although as we know from experience, getting it wrong on the accounting side of things can have unfortunate knock-on effects on the clinical side. To that we would add a welcome to a way of examining a hospital that does not restrict itself to mortality rates. They may prove a useful part of the picture but can be misleading, as the bare facts will not give any background on the local area and any specific challenges it faces.

But while the congratulations today rightly go to the staff of QA, the management must also make sure that the report as a whole is taken on board.

It isn’t an entirely glowing inspection – after all, the overall rating for QA, regardless of the care highlights, is ‘requires improvement’.

The News has often reported the troubles at the oversubscribed A&E, with long queues leading to ambulances backed up and operations delayed in other parts of the hospital. Work must continue on this. And the report has found the hospital’s services could be better led and more responsive. But for now, it deserves the plaudits.

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