Damning report into Watford Hospital prompts fresh calls for St Albans City upgrade

Watford General Hospital

Watford General Hospital - Credit: Archant

In the wake of a critical inspection report on Watford General Hospital, local MP Anne Main has reiterated her call for St Albans Hospital to be upgraded to take the pressure off it.

A report from health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that while Watford Hospital met expected standards for cleanliness and infection control along with record-keeping, action is needed in five areas including patients’ care and welfare.

The report follows an unannounced inspection by the CQC last November.

Mrs Main said the findings supported the call for improvements to St Albans City Hospital to help ease the burden at Watford.

Among the negatives outlined by the CQC, just 69 per cent of patients who had a stroke were admitted from A&E to the stroke ward within four hours - considerably below the target of 90 per cent for the year.

And while West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, set itself a target of seeing 93 per cent of patients at clinic within 14 days for cancer referrals, the trust had reached 85 per cent.

Eighty per cent of patients received treatment for cancer within the national 62-day target.

Most Read

The CQC said care and treatment “was not always planned and delivered in a way that was intended to ensure people’s safety and welfare” and that action was needed.

Nurse staffing levels were affected by the “high level of staff vacancies; despite on-going recruitment significant pressures on staff were evident in the maternity service.”

However there were positives too, including an improvement in mortality rates and patients praised staff for being “very good and very nice people”.

When inspectors visited the A&E department and the acute admission unit, which accepts referrals from GPs and supports the emergency ward, patients were “complimentary of the care they had received and said they had felt respected with regard to their privacy and dignity.

“We saw examples of caring and compassionate interactions with patients.”

There was adequate cover on the A&E department, with staffing levels reviewed daily to ensure they met safe staffing guidelines for day and night shifts.

The report warned though that there were not always enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs.

As mentioned previously in this paper, agency nurses are often used to provide cover.

Inspectors said staff at Watford admitted that ad hoc agency nurses impacted on the efficiency of departments as they needed additional support and slowed down functioning of the wards.

Inspectors spoke to 29 patients and 40 employees, including from the executive team, and they also observed how people were being cared for.

A trust spokesman said he would await the release of the document before commenting on its recommendations.