Bedford Hospital heavily criticised in CQC report
A hospital has apologised "unreservedly" for failings revealed in a heavily critical report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Inspectors told Bedford Hospital they had "major concerns" at its "failure to protect patients' safety and welfare".
They said the hospital must make "urgent improvements" to comply with national quality and safety standards.
The hospital's acting chief executive, Stephen Conroy, said it was committed to dealing with the issues raised.
Inspectors visited the hospital's stroke unit, accident and emergency department and two of the three elderly care wards over four days last month.
They said during that period it failed to ensure there were enough suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff on duty in all areas of the hospital.
Inspectors added that A&E patients reported experiencing long delays and said they had not been kept informed about what was happening.
At ward level, inspectors said the system for escalating concerns was "weak" and "did not demonstrate effective responses to the identified issues".
The CQC has now issued formal warnings to the trust, after it complied with just one of nine "essential standards" inspected - the safety and suitability of the premises.
Mr Conroy said: "We welcome the rigour of the CQC's review and are focused on tackling the areas of unacceptable practice identified in order to deliver improvements and ensure the issues are resolved."
He added a "rigorous internal review" would look to address the issues identified, but said the general standard of care and patient experience at the hospital remained "high".
"We have exemplary areas, including maternity, as well as some of our medical and surgical specialities and wards," he said.
"However, the CQC report tells us, and our own internal scrutiny tells us, that this high level of quality is not consistent across every area.
"This is unacceptable and we are committed to putting that right."