Dudley hospital safety 'inadequate' amid sepsis fears
A hospital trust's safety has been rated as inadequate after inspectors raised concerns over its sepsis treatment and a risk of patient exposure to excessive radiation levels.
The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust operates three sites, including Dudley's Russells Hall Hospital.
While the trust retains 2017's overall ranking of 'requires improvement', its safety rating has been downgraded.
The trust said it was disappointed although improvements had been made.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited the sites in January and February.
Inspectors found "significant improvements" were needed to boost safety in both emergency care and diagnostic imaging which includes X-rays, ultrasound and MRI scans.
Emergency standards were assessed at Russells Hall Hospital - the major site of the three under inspectors' gaze. Its diagnostic imaging was also reviewed along with that offered by the Guest Outpatient Centre, also in Dudley, and Stourbridge's Corbett Outpatient Centre.
Professor Ted Baker, the CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, said: "The safety of urgent and emergency care fell short of our expectations.
"Inconsistent and poor practice meant that not all patients received sepsis treatment in a timely manner."
He added: "Not all patients were monitored and observed sufficiently to identify deterioration, and we were not assured that all patients allocated to wait on corridors were safe."
The report also found the emergency department "did not always have enough staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep people safe".
It emerged in 2018 that A&E at Russells Hall was being investigated by the CQC over the deaths of 54 patients, although the latest report does not refer to concerns over mortality rates in emergency care.
With regard to diagnostic imaging, Mr Baker said there was "a lack of awareness" of ionising radiation regulations, "meaning people could have been exposed to radiation levels that may not have been as low as practicable".
More broadly, on whether services offered across the trust were effective and caring, inspectors rated them good, but in the criteria of "well-led" and "responsive", they were found to require improvement.
The individual services of surgery and community end-of-life care were rated good.
The trust said while it was disappointed with the inadequate safety rating, plans to improve were in place.
It added it was pleased "hard work" was paying off in emergency care, where the rating had been upgraded to requiring improvement.
A spokesperson said there had been a staffing review to support patient care and safety, with additional investment in radiology staffing.
The CQC said it continued to monitor the sites.