Blackpool Victoria Hospital has 'insufficient numbers' of medical staff as report highlights 12-hour waiting times well below national average

A serious lack of qualified medical staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is putting patient safety at risk.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 11:46 am
Blackpool Vic

An inspection of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in January, found the hospital is suffering from ‘insufficient numbers of qualified medical staff’.

It was ordered to make a number of improvements, including cutting long waiting times in its emergency department.

The hospital must make sure there are enough qualified medics on hand meet patient needs. Staff must also ensure that patient records are filled in correctly and are kept secure at all times.

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Communication between medical professionals and patients and families must also be improved. If a patient is unable to consent to treatment, staff must make sure to follow Trust policy and the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

CQC’s deputy chief inspector for the north, Ann Ford, said: “Whilst we recognise the pressures that the trust was under during the pandemic at the time we inspected, CQC has a responsibility to follow up on concerns that were received from staff and people using these services.

“When inspectors visited Blackpool Victoria Hospital, they found areas where immediate improvements were needed to ensure people could access the appropriate service in a prompt and timely way. This was not always happening, because patient flow through the hospital was a challenge.

“We also found there was not sufficient numbers of qualified, competent and experienced medical staff in the medical care services. The trust must ensure that this is improved to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment they deserve.

“However, inspectors did also see some examples of good practice. There was effective senior leadership of doctors and nurses. Junior doctors informed us that they felt supported and that consultants were open and easy to speak to.

“Inspectors found that the atmosphere, while busy, was calm and staff were aware of their roles and what they needed to do. A senior nurse told us that there was strong support from their manager and there had been massive leaps in patient care and patient safety following the appointment of the relatively new executive team.

“The Trust has made a number of improvements since our last inspection and knows what further improvements need to be made and embedded. We will continue to monitor services closely and return to check on progress.”

Chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Kevin McGee said the organisation has an action plan which was put in place to track improvements following the CQC inspection in 2019 and good progress was being made.

He said: “The CQC visit in January was unannounced and the team were able to observe some key areas of Blackpool Victoria Hospital at an extremely busy times, right in the eye of the second wave of the pandemic.

“The services inspected were incredibly pressured, working in some of the most challenging circumstances we have ever experienced. I would like to thank all colleagues on duty who were able to support the CQC on top of everything else they were dealing with that day.

“The Trust will now action those areas of improvement identified as part of our overall CQC action plan and ambitious improvement plans for the entire organisation.

“I am pleased, however, that the progress we are making for patients and their families is being recognised and making a difference to people’s lives.

“ There is much to do but I am confident we know what further improvements are needed and how to deliver them to best effective as quickly as we are able.

“We continue to work with all colleagues, regulators and the wider health and social care system to get better each and every day.”

The inspection of Blackpool Victoria Hospital looked at urgent and emergency services and medical care, including elderly people’s care. Here's what the CQC had to say about each department.

URGENT AND EMERGENCY SERVICES - THE PROS

Infection risks were properly dealt with, and the hospital was kept clean with ‘plentiful’ supplies of PPE

Once patients were in the department staff completed risk assessments, and identified and quickly acted upon patients at risk of deterioration

Systems were in place to safely prescribe, administer and record medicines. The service had enough qualified staff to provide adequate care

There was effective senior leadership of doctors and nurses in the department

Staff felt respected, supported and valued.

THE CONS

The department’s corridors were cluttered with trolleys and equipment.

People could access the service when they needed it but did not always receive the right care promptly. The percentage of patients who spent less than four hours in the department was 51.2 per cent, compared to the England average of 72 per cent. Some 60 per cent of patients had to wait up to 12 hours to be admitted

MEDICAL CARE - THE PROS

Staff used equipment to protect themselves and others from infection and kept the area clean

Risk assessments were carried out for each patient

Medicines were mostly stored, prescribed, administered and reviewed appropriately and patients had their allergy

status recorded

THE CONS

Infection risks were not always properly addressed, and there was a lack of clear signage indicating Covid-19 risk areas

The service did not always have sufficient medical staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience

There was an inconsistent approach to the completion of patient records

Some antimicrobial medications were delayed, or not administered at all

Fluid balance charts were not always fully completed

Staff did not always communicate with patients about their treatment or follow national guidance on patient consent.

People could not always access the service when they needed it and receive the right care promptly