King's Lynn QE Hospital placed into special measures

Ambulances outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn Image copyright Anita Hodgson
Image caption Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, has apologised to patients and staff

A hospital where bereaved parents were counselled close to women giving birth has been placed into special measures.

Those suffering a stillbirth or miscarriage were seen in an "unsuitable" bereavement suite at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, a report found.

It was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) amid concerns over safety and leadership.

The hospital's chief executive has apologised to patients and staff.

Inspectors found basic food, drink and toilet needs were unable to be met promptly and criticised patient turnover.

Staff turnover, sickness and vacancy rates were higher than targets and low nursing staff levels were impacting on patient safety, the CQC report said.

Inspectors were concerned "there was a focus on discharging patients as quickly as possible to free up beds, with a lack of focus on ensuring the patient's holistic needs were met prior to discharge".

Staff and patients also told them they felt "discharges were, on occasion, unsafe or too early".

The report also rated maternity services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust inadequate, finding facilities at its North Cambridgeshire hospital in Wisbech and the early pregnancy assessment unit on Appleton ward "not fit for purpose".

Immediate improvements in maternity services were introduced after the inspection, which ran from April to June.

Image caption Queen Elizabeth Hospital continues to be financially challenged, according to its chief executive

Some medicines were not monitored, stored or prescribed appropriately and cancer patients were not being seen within national timeframes, the report also said.

'Financially challenged'

The inspectors found that effectiveness and responsiveness of services required improvement, but the care of their services were rated good.

The Trust had a deficit of £20m at the end of the past financial year and, at a board meeting in July, chief executive Jon Green said "we continue to find ourselves financially challenged".

Speaking about the report, Mr Green said: "We fully accept all that the CQC have said and I would like to apologise to those patients who we have let down and to our dedicated staff who work so hard under sometimes extreme pressures.

"I am determined to ensure this organisation improves and meets their expectations."

It means there are now 12 acute NHS trusts in England currently in special measures because of quality concerns.

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