Health inspectors have condemned a “chaotic” hospital emergency department which they said was failing to keep patients safe.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found long queues of ambulances outside the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, while patients with serious symptoms waited hours to be assessed.
It gave the hospital an overall rating of “inadequate”.
Responding to the publication of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into urgent and emergency services at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Interim Chief Executive, Tim Powell, said: “We recognise the picture painted by the CQC in this report and we are very sorry that we have failed to provide to our patients, on a consistent basis, the high standards of care that we expect of ourselves. We also apologise for any problems that this, in turn, has caused our health partners, including the local ambulance service.
“We fully accept the inspector’s findings and we are now working hard to make the improvements that will ensure we have a much more efficient emergency department in future. We have already made some changes and over the coming weeks and months we will be doing more. Our first priority is to ensure patient safety within the emergency department.
“It will take time to make all of the necessary improvements but we are determined to ensure that by the time of maximum demand in our emergency department, next winter, our service will be better. We have changed the way in which some patients are admitted to the Acute Medical Unit, redirecting those patients who do not need the clinical skills of the ED team to other pathways and promoting the fact that GPs can refer urgent patients directly to ambulatory services and our outpatients clinic.
“We will also be working to reduce the number of medically fit patients who are delayed in hospital by making our care more consultant-led, increasing the number of times patient care is reviewed each day by a senior doctor and working more closely with our health and social care community colleagues to remove delays in the patient treatment and discharge pathway.
“We have already taken steps to comply with the enforcement notice issued recently by the CQC. We immediately ensured the large multi-occupancy ambulance, known as the ‘jumbulance’ is no longer used; we have appointed a senior leader, Dr Rob Haigh, as the Executive Director for the Emergency Care pathway; we have put in place an escalation system and we are providing the CQC with daily monitoring information.
“We will now place greater emphasis upon prioritising tests and investigations, reviews and referrals and will increase the focus on reducing delays to patient discharge.
“We will work closely with our health system partners and we are progressing our Emergency Care Improvement Programme (ECIP), which focuses on improving performance across both health and social care, helping to further improve outcomes and patient experience as we strive to ensure we provide the very best care for our patients, who should be at the very heart of everything we do.
“I am confident that together the Trust leadership, our hard working staff and our health partners will make the improvements needed.”