A bitter pill for hospital

Action needed: Royal Preston Hospital must improve its care
Action needed: Royal Preston Hospital must improve its care
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Royal Preston Hospital failed to meet three out of five essential standards of care following an unannounced visit by inspectors from a health watchdog.

The care and welfare of people who use the services, staffing levels and complaints were the areas that were highlighted as needing action following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission, which today published a report into the hospital following a visit in November.

During the inspection, several areas of the hospital were visited including A&E, the medical assessment unit, the rapid assessment unit and a number of medical units.

The hospital failed to meet the standard of the care and welfare of people who use their services.

A number of patients told inspectors they had been moved around wards more times than they felt necessary and a few patients reported being woken up during the night to be moved around.

One patient described his experience as “being moved from pillar to post” and other patients raised concerns about a lack of communication.

One of the issues that arose was some call bells being out of the reach of patients and inspectors also noted gaps in planning.

One diabetic patient’s records were not complete and he told inspectors that the day before he had mistakenly given jam, which was high in sugar.

He told inspectors: “I should have managed it myself but I was really confused and disorientated.”

Inspectors felt the Royal Preston Hospital was not meeting the staffing standard for having enough workers to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs.

The inspection at the Rapid Assessment Unit found that staff appeared to be under pressure and struggling to cope. When a worker was asked if this situation was normal, their reply was: “More often than not.”

The hospital did not meet the complaints standard as inspectors felt action was needed to ensure people had their complaints listened to and acted on properly.

Inspectors could not find information about how to make complaints on posters in wards and departments and when talking to patients who had made complaints, they learned some felt they had not received adequate information from the trust while waiting for a response.

One complainant waited eight months for a response and showed a record of calls and e-mails they made throughout their wait, some of which they had not received a response to.

Tim Ellis, regional officer for health union UNISON, said: “All theses areas relate to staffing and cost pressures which lead to instability and has a knock on effect on patients.

“The heart of the CQC findings is a shortage of staff which has led to the other areas of concern. The hospital has suffered a five per cent loss in funding year-on-year.”

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “This report is not a total shock to me as I do get a number of complaints about the Royal Preston Hospital at my surgeries.

“These revelations show that if you keep slashing the budget, the consequence is that not only do you get issues with staff morale, patients begin to suffer too.

“I am deeply concerned about this and demand immediate action.”

But Karen Partington, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, defeded the hospital. She said: “Overall the inspection was really positive and found many examples of excellent care and treatment. We are very pleased that inspectors recognised our commitment to providing safe and effective services, and highlighted our rigorous and successful approach to prevent infections. However the CQC also judged that we are not fully meeting three standards, which could have a minor impact on our patients.”

The CQC inspectors did acknowledge the concerns identified were of minor impact and could be resolved quickly.

Royal Preston Hospital was found to be compliant in the areas of cleanliness and infection control and assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision.

Hospital chiefs have been asked to send the CQC a report setting out the action they will take to meet the standards by January 21.