Hereford & Worcester

Worcestershire A&E units 'inadequate' on patient waits

Worcestershire Royal Hospital - generic image Image copyright PA
Image caption In January, 167 A&E patients waited more than 12 hours for a bed on a ward

Two Accident and Emergency units in Worcestershire have been rated "inadequate" after inspectors found patients waiting on trolleys for treatment for too long.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Worcestershire Royal and Alexandra Hospital in December and found their A&Es "overwhelmed".

It also criticised delays in assessing patients arriving by ambulance.

A trust spokesman apologised for waits experienced by patients.

Both emergency departments had previously been in special measures for about four years but were given a better rating of "requires improvement" following inspections in May 2019.

However, during an unannounced visit in December inspectors found "people waited too long for assessment" and were "treated on corridors too frequently".

They also said consultant cover failed to meet national guidelines.

Chief hospital inspector Prof Ted Baker said some ambulance patients at Worcestershire Royal "waited over three hours" for treatment with the longest wait for a bed at almost 24 hours.

The watchdog said prior to its inspection it was informed about a patient who died following delays in handing them over to hospital staff.

The investigation into that incident is ongoing.

Overcrowding was the CQC's "biggest concern" in Alexandra Hospital's A&E, with the department's layout leading to queuing in corridors, Prof Baker said.

He stated it became "overwhelmed quickly, posing a risk to patient safety".

Image caption Overcrowding was the CQC's "biggest concern" in Alexandra Hospital's A&E, inspectors said

The watchdog said it had raised these issues with the trust in 2015 but found the response "insufficient".

However, inspectors said they had seen "professional and caring staff" even while "working under pressure" at both hospitals.

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of the trust, apologised for the waits, which he recognised occurred "despite the enormous efforts of staff", adding that the trust was "absolutely committed" to improving.

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