Pressure mounts on troubled King’s Lynn hospital


- Credit: IAN BURT

A hospital which received a damning inspection verdict from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has come in for further criticism after an independent regulator said it failed to meet national accident and emergency waiting time targets for three consecutive quarters.

Monitor, which assess NHS trusts, said it would use its regulatory powers to ensure the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn meets the target, addresses its financial performance and undertakes an independent review of how the trust ensures it delivers high quality care.

The regulator had said in 2012 that it would be keeping the Gayton Road hospital under close scrutiny after finding it had breached its terms to exercise its functions effectively, efficiently and economically.

In a statement, Monitor said the QEH had breached undertakings to the regulator, as its proposed recovery plan failed to demonstrate how the trust could return to financial sustainability.

It comes as the hospital, in Gayton Road, King's Lynn, was heavily criticised by inspectors who visited over three days in May and told to improve in nine separate areas, including its complaints procedure, obtaining people's consent to care and patients' privacy, dignity and independence.

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Monitor regional director Mark Turner said: 'Since we first stepped in at this trust, further issues have arisen and the trust's financial position has deteriorated.

'We are concerned about the issues identified by the CQC report and expect the trust to take steps to rectify these problems and make sure it delivers appropriate care for its patients.'

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The trust has now assured Monitor it will fix the failings identified by the CQC, implement an A&E recovery plan and bring in external support to find a long term solution to the trust's problems.

The group responsible for commissioning healthcare services in west Norfolk also said it would not accept poor standards in the wake of the CQC report.

Sue Crossman, chief officer of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for buying services in the area, said it had put in place its own action points to address areas of concern following the report.

She said: 'Ensuring quality of care for the patients of west Norfolk is our highest priority and we will not accept poor standards of care in our locality.

'As the local commissioner for health services, West Norfolk CCG continuously monitors the quality of services provided by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

'We have put in place clear plans for the trust to implement actions to address our areas of concern, which are broadly reflected in the CQC findings.

'Our clinical and management teams based at the CCG are working closely with the hospital to support them in identifying ways to improve the patient experience.

'We recognise the commitment and dedication of frontline staff at the hospital, who are working extremely hard and we will continue to support the trust in achieving the required quality standards.'

Kate Gordon, chairman of the hospital's trust, said her board took full responsibility for the critical inspection and pledged to make urgent improvements.

Dr Bev Watson, joint medical director, said some concerns highlighted, such as the incorrectly stored medicines, had been quick to fix and were dealt with immediately.

However she said other areas would take longer to put right. For example, the QEH will need to get funding to increase space in accident and emergency for more assessment and treatment facilities, whereas it will also take time to move records over to a full electronic system.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said the CQC report was of 'great concern'.

She added: 'Residents in south west Norfolk deserve the very best in their hospital care. The report highlights a number of failings.

'Patients want to be reassured that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is capable of providing safe and efficient treatment and I want to know that action is being taken as a matter of urgency with a review of operational procedures fully under way.'

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