Northampton General Hospital's end-of-life care criticised

A hospital statement said there was "a number of positives" in the report

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Northampton General Hospital's care for terminally ill patients has been rated "inadequate" by a health watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that staff had a "lack of clarity" about what care pathways to use and said there were not enough evening and weekend doctors on those wards.

It also discovered failings in the hospital's A&E, surgery, medical care, maternity and outpatient departments.

In response, the hospital said it had "the capability to turn this round".

The inspection, carried out in January, found that staff uncertainty about what care pathways to use for patients at the end of their lives had led to "inconsistencies in practice" across the hospital.

Waiting times failures

Staff in those wards were also inconsistent in record-keeping, with the CQC adding that it was noisy at night, there were a lack of doctors at certain times and there was no "clear clinical leadership" for end-of-life care.

Five other departments at the hospital were also found to be needing improvement.

Dr Sonia Swart Dr Sonia Swart said the hospital was "caring" and "clean"

In A&E, waiting times targets had not been met, with the requirement that 95% of patients were seen within four hours only occurring on six days out of 30.

Significant delays in patient discharge from medical wards and surgery, a lack of consultants in maternity and delays in follow-up appointments in the outpatients' department were also picked up by the watchdog.

However, the CQC recognised the hospital had begun to address staffing issues and rated its intensive care and children's services as "good".

Dr Sonia Swart, the hospital's chief executive, said: "I am proud to say the inspectors found our staff to be caring, that the hospital was clean and that infection control was good.

"The CQC's report highlights issues we knew we faced and were already working to address. We know we have the capability to turn this round - I still think this is fundamentally a good hospital."

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