Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital bosses pledge to tackle ‘blind-spots’ identified by inspectors

Bosses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have pledged to tackle the 'blind spots' in patient care identified by inspectors, which includes ongoing issues with hospital food.

Six inspectors from hospital watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) made an unannounced visit to the hospital last month, following a previous visit in March.

While the results of that inspection will not be officially published until next week, hospital bosses acknowledged at a public meeting last night that they do not always get it right for all of the three quarter of a million patients treated at the N&N each year.

Following the March inspection, the hospital was told by watchdogs that it was 'non-compliant with moderate concerns' when it came to nutrition.

At last night's meeting at the hospital, attended by about a hundred people, bosses outlined the efforts which they have made since to ensure that patients get a better standard of food and, crucially, more help to ensure they get the nutrition they need during their hospital stay.

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It is understood that, following last month's inspection, the verdict of watchdogs is that the hospital has improved nutrition so that it no longer non-complaint with the care standards.

When the full report is published, it is also understood there will there are two other areas where the hospital is compliant with minor concerns and one area where the hospital is non-compliant with moderate concerns.

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Anna Dugdale, hospital chief executive, said: 'We know we provide great care to the vast majority of patients, but we do not always get it right.

'It makes it really hard to stand here as chief executive and admit that sometimes we get it very wrong and harm patients who have placed their trust in us, or we do not provide them with good enough care.

'Every hospital in the world gets it wrong sometimes, but my pledge is that we won't breach the trust people place in us, although we won't always get it right.' Ms Dugdale welcomed the CQC inspections as a way to lift the lid on problems. She said: 'Every organisation has its blind spots and for us it is a really positive thing to have had the CQC give us a different perspective on the care we provide and the way patients experience it.'

The meeting heard how the hospital has tried to improve nutrition through an action plan when it comes to hospital food.

Nick Coveney, director of nursing, said: 'As a result of that inspection in March we have changed a huge number of things in the hospital and an incredible amount of work has gone on.

'One of the things is that we now have a 'call to arms' at meal times. The way we had been supporting patients was confused at best and a shambles in some places.

'We needed to go back to a really structured way of working with patients, so there weren't people wandering in and out at meal times and we are now enforcing protected meal times, so there are no distractions and the focus is on supporting patients with their food.'

The hospital introduced new menus, made sure patients and staff were prepared ahead of the meals and focused more on attention to detail.

Mr Coveney added: 'It's really a great improvement. It sounds like an obvious thing, but, I've been a nurse for 30 years and this feels like we have gone back to the way we used to do things 20 years ago, putting things back the way they were.'

The meeting heard from some patients, friends and family members who said they had endured 'appalling' care at the hospital, while others spoke of the excellent care they had received.

Chief executive David Prior said: 'The CQC report was a wake-up call. We do get positive feedback, but if one per cent of patients receive poor care that is 7,500 people a year.

'We do make mistakes and things happen and we are horrified when they happen. The message we want to get across tonight is that we care about this and if one person has a rotten experience here, then we are not done.'

• Do you have a health story? Call Evening News health reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email

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