A report by the health watchdog, The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has raised concerns about levels of patient care and staff shortages at Weston General Hospital in North Somerset.
Although some services were rated “good,” others were said to be “inadequate” and the overall judgement was that the hospital required improvement.
The findings were based on inspections carried out between 19th to 22nd May 2015 as well as unannounced visits that took place on 30th May and 5th June 2015.
The CQC said it had “serious concerns” over safety in emergency care and medical services at the hospital. In accident and emergency, the report found that patients were not assessed or prioritised quickly enough, triage was poor, and patients were not adequately monitored whilst waiting to be seen as there weren’t enough cubicles.
The report also found that there were high numbers of vacancies for consultants and too few doctors working within accident and emergency departments and medical and surgical wards.
Some junior doctors said they did not receive enough support and that they often felt under pressure to perform tasks unsupervised. Medical and surgical doctors felt that they were often doing work for which they were inadequately prepared and not necessarily competent, and in the high care unit, there were insufficient appropriately qualified and skilled nurses available to look after high dependency patients.
There were also concerns about the number of midwifes. Although the Trust provides maternity services to 1,500 women per year, it had the lowest midwife to birth ratio in the country.
Interestingly, patients and relatives reported that hospital staff were “compassionate, kind and respectful” and the general feedback received from patients was positive. This suggests that the problem does not concern the quality of the staff but instead, actual staffing levels in the hospital.
The report made a number of recommendations, including how the hospital must continue to take steps to reduce the number of incidents of avoidable harm to patients. This is a priority across all our hospitals but it seems there are particular problems that need addressing at Weston General Hospital.
There is plenty of evidence that hospitals are not as good as they should be at recognising where poor care has caused harm to patients, at learning lessons, and putting measures into place to prevent harm and improve patient care.
Slater and Gordon’s team of specialist clinical negligence solicitors encounter daily stories of patients coming to harm because of inadequate hospital care. Our job is to seek damages that are designed so far as possible to put people back in the position they would have been in had they not suffered harm as a direct consequence of negligent hospital care. We also aim wherever possible, to highlight hospital failings and press for improved levels of care.
Paul Sankey is a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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