East Sussex NHS apology after inspectors criticise care

An NHS chief executive has apologised after inspectors criticised two Sussex hospitals for failing to meet essential care standards.

A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticising East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust after inspectors visited in February has been published.

Inspectors raised immediate concerns about Eastbourne and Hastings.

Hospital chief Darren Grayson said the trust took robust action to address the problems, and work was continuing.

Infection control

One part of the inspectors' report said it found "institutional abuse" - defined as the mistreatment of people resulting from poor practice - on a ward where staff failed to complete an alert despite heavy bruising to a patient.

Inspectors also criticised infection control and said there were inadequate arrangements in place to safely manage foul linen, some hospital areas were dirty, doors of side rooms used for patients in isolation were left open, and there were insufficient cleaning staff in post.

The report said there was a lack of staff, care plans and risk assessments were not completed or were inaccurate, patient dignity was compromised by facilities and staff attitudes, and patients' rights were also not adequately respected.

Regional CQC director Roxy Boyce said: "We were so concerned about the quality of care provided to patients in many parts of Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital that we raised immediate concerns."

Chief executive of the NHS trust Mr Grayson said he read the CQC report "with considerable dismay and concern".

He apologised to patients and the public and added: "It was clear to me that, whilst there were a number of very positive things said by our patients about us, we have further work to do."

Housekeeping teams

Action taken since February included ensuring staff routinely identified issues that might compromise patient privacy and dignity, he said.

An external review of privacy and dignity was also under way.

The NHS trust was taking advice and working with the local authority on safeguarding patients.

Building work was being completed in the emergency departments to improve the environment, and recruitment was being pushed forward to fill vacant posts.

An external review of maternity staffing had been carried out.

Rotas, care planning, risk assessments, record keeping, and communication with patients had also been improved.

An extended menu was being offered and two teams of additional housekeepers had been hired.

Mr Grayson added: "The trust is aware that addressing some of the issues identified by the CQC will require long-term, structural, cultural and strategic change."

He said the trust would continue working with the CQC to ensure its actions brought "step-by-step improvements".

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