West Norfolk MPs are seeking an urgent meeting with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over “failings” revealed at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss and North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham issued a joint statement declaring: “Residents need to know health care in West Norfolk is of the highest possible standards and we plan to ensure this is delivered.”
The hospital trust has also briefed Health Minister Norman Lamb on its action plan designed to tackle weaknesses highlighted in last month’s Care Quality Commission report.
The plan includes bidding for funding for a modular building to increase capacity in A&E to help improve patient privacy. Communication with some patients was criticised in the report. The trust said matrons and consultants were reinforcing the need for greater involvement of patients and carers in decisions about care. Ward teams and staff were to attend training.
Better arrangements for assessing patients’ mental capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment were called for in the report. The trust said training would be changed to reflect concerns raised and staff would be advised through the dementia training programme to record decision making within the patient’s health record.
The report found the hospital was not always responding appropriately to patients’ comments and complaints.
The trust said training would be provided for all staff responsible for dealing with complaints. To improve accessibility, the QEH Complaints, Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and Patient Experience teams would be located at the front of the hospital.
The report voiced concern that patients were not always protected from the risks of unsafe or inappropriate treatment because accurate records were not always kept. Key records were insufficiently detailed, inaccessible or contradictory.
The trust said an improved framework for documentation was being agreed and training on record keeping was being provided as part of induction. Additional training on the importance of fluid balance charts and stool charts was being included in nurse training.
The report was critical of patients who were medically fit to be discharged having to wait because other providers were involved or when patients were discharged or transferred between different services.
The trust said: “We are reviewing the existing ambulance handover plan and preparing a 2013/14 winter plan with partners, building in flexibility to match demand and capacity.”
The need for proper storage and recording of medicines was highlighted in the report and out-of-date stocks were found on one ward. The plan requires locks on all cupboards containing intravenous fluids and specified the need for “education and training of nursing staff to follow the instructions on the label when products are dispensed and stored.”
The trust was said to have failed to ensure that there were sufficient suitably qualified staff to ensure the safety and welfare of patients. In addition to an 80-nurse recruitment plan, targeted recruitment for A&E and the employment of four A&E consultants was planned.