St Albans City Hospital branded inadequate by inspectors

St Albans City Hospital was found to be inadequate

St Albans City Hospital was found to be inadequate - Credit: Archant

Health bosses have been left reeling after a ‘shocking and damning’ inspection report slated St Albans City Hospital services as inadequate, and recommended the NHS trust running it be put into special measures.

A 'shocking and damning' inspection report slated St Albans City Hospital services

A 'shocking and damning' inspection report slated St Albans City Hospital services - Credit: Archant

England’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Mike Richards, wants West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead, to be placed into special measures after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection gave it an overall rating of inadequate.

In a report released this morning (Thursday) Prof Richards said facilities in some areas across the trust were in a poor state of repair and caused a potential risk to staff and visitors.

Vital tools such as resuscitation equipment were not always appropriately checked.

Frequent staff shortages and poor management of agency staff in the maternity unit at Watford General increased risks to patients.

St Albans City Hospital is one of the hospitals run by West Herts Hospital Trust

St Albans City Hospital is one of the hospitals run by West Herts Hospital Trust - Credit: Archant

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Prof Richards said: “We found a number of serious problems when we inspected services, and I have made a recommendation to the Trust Development Authority that the trust should be placed into special measures.”

Inspectors said that Hemel Hempstead Hospital needed improvement overall, while Watford General - like St Albans City - was judged to be inadequate.

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St Albans Hospital’s rating has been downgraded from an inspection in 2013, when it was considered by inspectors as meeting standards across the board for staffing, caring, and the quality of its management.

In the CQC’s recent report, inspectors said that patients experienced a good level of care in the surgery, outpatients and urgent care departments, but the hospital required improvement in various areas – particularly when it came to safety in outpatients, and in surgery, where although the effectiveness was good, its safety was rated as inadequate.

St Albans MP Anne Main described the findings as “shocking and damning”.

She added: “Under the previous chief executive, Sam Jones, and indeed her predecessor, Jan Filochowski, my constituents were promised that historical inadequacies of the trust, and its problems, were being addressed.

“It is hugely disappointing to see how far local services have been allowed to fall into such an inadequate state.”

But, Anne said, it was pleasing to see the interim chief executive, Jac Kelly, had shown a sense of urgency in dealing with the problems.

She said that Jac had reassured her St Albans would play a role in “rejuvenating the offering to local residents.

“While at the moment there are failings, by having an enhanced range of services in our local hospital I am hopeful we will see improvements and look forward to hearing the details of what that is going to be.”

In a statement, Jac said: “The report is clearly disappointing news for staff who daily go above and beyond to ensure our patients receive the care and treatment they deserve and need.

“The majority of our staff were found to be caring and compassionate but we are very sorry for where we have fallen short.

“We welcome the special support we’ve been offered as we know that we have a big challenge ahead to ensure our care is consistent across all our services.”

Jac said that she was confident staff would deliver improvements, pointing out that the CQC report also highlighted areas of excellence, including children’s and young people’s services.

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