Young patients in Kent hospital treated overnight with drunk adults
A health trust has been told to take "urgent action" after children had to wait overnight with "volatile" drunk adults in an emergency department.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated children and young people's services at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust inadequate.
Staff were "stretched beyond capacity" at the trust's hospitals in Margate and Ashford, the CQC said.
The trust said it had made "thorough" changes since the inspection.
Inspectors who visited the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate said: "At night children were often made to wait in the same emergency department areas as adult patients, sometimes exhibiting volatile behaviours or issues related to alcohol."
They added: "Resources to care for [young] patients with mental health concerns were insufficient."
Staff under pressure
Inspectors raised similar concerns over children and young people's services at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, citing staff shortages, poor management of medicines and a lack of measures in place to control infections.
The inspectors said: "Despite staff working under pressure they interacted well with babies and children. Parents were often complimentary about the care received."
CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Dr Nigel Acheson, said: "It is clear that the children's services at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust have been working under some pressure, apparently with no end in sight. We could not allow this to continue."
The CQC said it was using its urgent enforcement powers to impose conditions on the trust, including requiring it to report to the watchdog every four weeks on staff numbers and the numbers of young patients.
Trust chief executive Susan Acott said: "Staff have worked quickly and thoroughly over the last three months, changing everyday working practices and how services are managed, to make hospital services for children and young people safe and respond to the CQC's feedback,"
The trust said staffing levels had been "improved" with a number of vacancies having been filled since the CQC inspection in October.