Colchester Hospital: Health watchdog takes 'urgent' action

  • 3 September 2015
  • From the section Essex
Colchester General Hospital entrance
Image caption Health watchdog inspectors made two unannounced visits to Colchester General Hospital in July leading to the "enforcement action"

A Colchester Hospital patient asked a watchdog inspector for their phone so they could call a relative for heart medicine, a report has revealed.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now taken urgent "enforcement action" to keep patients safe after on-the-spot checks in July discovered problems.

Some patients still had "poor" care at the Essex hospital, which is in special measures, said CQC's chief inspector.

The trust said "immediate action" had been taken on specific wards.

CQC inspectors made two unannounced inspections within a week, including at night, to the 560-bed hospital's emergency assessment unit, surgical and medical wards.

The watchdog said it had imposed the action, which has placed conditions on the hospital's registration, as legal requirements over staffing were not being met.

It found too many shifts relied on temporary staff, who were not given proper inductions.

Among the improvements to be made, the CQC said staff on their first shift must be given a "local induction" to the ward.

It also discovered drugs were not administered at correct times and poor hygiene and record-keeping.

During their visit, inspectors spoke to a patient who had not been given their regular heart medication for three days despite asking for it. They were told they could not use the ward phone, causing them to ask to use an inspector's mobile to call a relative.

They also discovered a 'do not attempt resuscitation' order for a patient who was not mentally capable of agreeing to it.

CQC chief inspector Prof Mike Richards said he was concerned the hospital had "not taken sufficient action to address the requirements of our previous inspections".

Dr Lucy Moore, the hospital trust's interim chief executive, said the poor care identified was "unacceptable" and recruitment was under way.

"We are aware of the ongoing need for improvement," she said.

The CQC will make a full inspection later this month to judge improvements.

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