Inspectors call attention to Queen's Hospital A&E issues as it faces 'adverse pressure'

Queen's Hospital

A CQC inspection of Queen’s Hospital emergency department has raised concerns over the department's delays.  - Credit: Ken Mears

An inspection of Queen’s Hospital A&E has flagged multiple areas for improvement, including reducing long wait times. 

This comes after the service was rated "required improvement" after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in January 2020

The recent inspection of the hospital’s emergency department (ED) took place across November 29 to 30 last year in response to "concerning information" in relation to quality of care and safety of patients. 

The report, which was published on March 4 this year, said at the time of the visit, the department was “under adverse pressure”.

Barking, Havering, Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) put this down to the emergence of Omicron variant.

BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer said he was pleased the report "recognises the positive culture and leadership" in the ED, but apologised for the very long waits and "challenging conditions for staff.

The trust faces challenges with access and flow, the CQC report says, meaning patients could not access ED when needed to receive timely treatment.  

This issue was reported to result in demand exceeding the trust’s safe level of occupancy, with leaders acknowledging the ED didn't always have enough staff to manage "regular surges in demand effectively".  

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The CQC also raised concerns over delays and lack of oversight of how long walk-in patients had been waiting to receive care.  

It also flagged a lack of capacity on the wards because patients were not being discharged in a “timely way”, with social distancing wasn't always possible.

“Lapses in practice around infection prevention and control” were found along with a decline in medication management.

Inspectors also noted positives such as the “equipment and premises were visibly clean” and staff “understanding how to protect patients from abuse”.  

It noted while staff who are "under pressure...worked hard to provide compassionate care to patients and took account of their individual needs”.  

The report praised leaders for "actively working" to resolve challenges. 

Mr Trainer, said the report will challenge the department to do better to reduce the wait times. 

"I’m sorry so many people face very long waits, and that our staff have to work in these challenging conditions," he added. 

But he shared that Queen's Hospital has struggled with long waits for "more than a decade"

This inspection formed part of a system review of urgent and ED care provisions in north-east London - Queen's Hospital urgent treatment centre was also recently rated ‘requires improvement’.