Watford Hospital rapped for care failings

Watford General Hospital

Watford General Hospital - Credit: Archant

The acute hospital serving St Albans failed to meet standards of care in five out of six categories in a recent unannounced inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected Watford General Hospital in December and failed it on five categories including safe and appropriate care for people using the services, cleanliness and infection controls and staffing.

The only category in which the hospital met standards was the care and treatment patients received with many of those interviewed very complimentary about the attention and attitude of staff.

But CQC found that care and treatment on the stroke unit and of fractured femurs was not always planned and delivered in a way that would ensure people’s safety and welfare and there were flaws in arrangements to deal with foreseeable emergencies.

Risk of infection was also found to be a problem with appropriate guidance not always being followed and patients treated in an environnment that was not clean.

There were dried bloodstains on the floor in one area that had not been cleaned.

On the issue of staffing levels, the trust was found to not have enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs in the Acute Admissions Unit. CQC inspectors noticed that medication rounds were not protected to enable the nurse to concentrate on such an important task because of insufficient staffing levels. Low levels of appraisals for doctors meant there was not enough evidence that medical staff had the experience and skill to meet people’s needs.

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Action was also needed on the assessment and monitoring of the quality of service provision and records but the CQC inspectors praised the organisation as “well led” with the executive team responding well to areas of concern.

Trust chief executive Samantha Jones said that the report had highlighted many strengths, including the respectful treatment of patients and the good feedback CQC had received from patients they met.

She went on: “Unfortunately, the CQC have raised a number of minor concerns, including in relation to staffing, the control of infections, record keeping and the way in which we manage risk.

“As a result, we have recently submitted a detailed action plan to the CQC which will also be shared with our Trust Board and partners.

Ms Jones said nearly £4 million was spent last summer on the recruitment of 160 extra nurses and the trust was in the process of making significant changes to ensure the prevention and control of infections.