Hereford & Worcester

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust 'inadequate overall'

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Media captionThe Care Quality Commission inspection team spent six days at the trust

Urgent improvements are needed to ensure care at an NHS hospital trust is safe and effective, inspectors said.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was rated inadequate overall and should be put into special measures, the Care Quality Commission said.

July inspections raised concerns about staffing in several areas and an "over-reliance" on temporary staff, it said.

The trust said the rating was "due largely" to concerns over maternity and paediatrics services it had recognised.

Last month, the trust transferred all births from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to Worcestershire Royal Hospital until at least February because of staff shortages.

The CQC inspectors also pointed to "particular concerns" over the provision of medical staff in some services at the hospitals and a "reliance on locum doctors" leading to "extra strain".

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Media caption'Disappointment' from NHS trust boss

Consultant cover in the emergency unit did not meet Royal College of Emergency Medicine's recommendations and "overcrowding in this area was an on-going risk," the report said.

Prof Sir Mike Richards, the CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, said: "My inspection team found that the majority of staff were hard working, passionate and caring but had to struggle against the pressures they faced.

"We found that staff treated patients with dignity and respect which is why we rated the trust as "good" for caring.

"We found the caring approach to patients in maternity and gynaecology to be outstanding and good practice was also noted in the critical care unit, end of life service, surgery and in medical care."

He said one reason the trust was rated "inadequate" for being well-led and safe was because when things went wrong they were "not investigated promptly or thoroughly".

'Focused on improving'

Chris Tidman, the trust's chief executive, said staff had worked hard to improve services since July and would be "very disappointed" by the inadequate rating.

"We still have a great deal of work to do especially around processes and procedures. We remain focused on continuing to improve," he said.

The Save the Alex campaign said the trust was "not sustainable" and "never has been".

In a statement, it said: "It's clear now [the trust] must go and either be broken up and the pieces taken on by different providers or taken over as a whole.

"What cannot happen is this report is used to justify a major downgrade of the Alex and we call on our MPs and our health service to ensure that does not happen."

Labour shadow health minister Lord Hunt said: "To get this grading from CQC is very serious and clearly the people the patients using the hospital need to see some improvement.... quickly in order for them to keep confidence in the services being provided."

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