King's Lynn hospital put into special measures for second time after 'inadequate' inspection
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) trust in Lynn has been put into special measures for a second time by health watchdogs.
Hospital bosses have apologised after a new report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said services at the Gayton Road site have got worse over the past three years.
But the present management has been backed by both staff representatives and the town's MP to turn things around.
The new assessment, which follows visits conducted between April and June, deems the trust to be inadequate for whether its services are safe and well led, requires improvement for their effectiveness and responsiveness and good on whether services were caring.
Professor Ted Baker, the CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, said inspectors had found particular cause for concern in urgent and emergency care as well as maternity services.
He added that concerns relating to the latter were so serious that they were raised with managers during the inspection and a formal warning notice.
He added: "We found there had been a deterioration in the service provided since our last visit and a number of improvements were needed.
"We have reported our findings to the trust leadership and it knows what it must do now to bring about the necessary improvements."
NHS Improvement, the body responsible for overseeing trusts like the QEH, added it would be undertaking "intensive" work with the hospital to address the issues raised.
The trust was previously put into special measures in 2013, before being lifted out of them following the last CQC inspection two years later, when it was rated as requiring improvement.
Hospital executives are due to hold a news conference later this morning to discuss the report's findings and set out more details of their response to them.
Chief executive Jon Green said he was "saddened" by the report's findings, but felt confident the inspectors would see progress when they return.
He said: "We fully accept all that the CQC have said and I would like to apologise to those patients who we have let down and to our dedicated staff who work so hard under sometimes extreme pressures.
"I am determined to ensure this organisation improves and meets their expectations.
"I know from the letters and compliments I receive the importance of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the community it serves. We and our dedicated staff are working hard to meet our patients’ expectations. We are listening to them and the wider community. Patients should feel confident about being cared for at the QEH."
Darren Barber, chairman of the hospital's joint staff consultative committee, added: "This report makes sad reading for everyone at QEH, especially the staff and our patients.
"Things have gone wrong and they must be put right as quickly as possible.
"We have a long track record of working with and supporting the management of this hospital. They continue to have our support and we will continue to work with them in the coming weeks and months."
North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said lessons needed to be learned from the report and he would be seeking early talks with both executives and ministers following what he described as the "disheartening" findings.
But he added: "I do not believe now is the time for a change in senior management, as this is the first time in a long time that we have had a permanent senior management team, and I have every confidence they will be successful in turning the hospital around.
"Furthermore, I have no doubt that the majority of staff at the QEH are highly-professional, highly-dedicated, highly-compassionate and they will make the recovery plan work.
"Many of my constituents who have contacted me have done so to highlight the truly excellent care they have received whilst staying at the QEH.
"Time and again constituents tell me that they leave the QEH having had a really positive experience, and this is, of course, in part due to the professionalism, kindness and compassion shown by the staff they dealt with."