Staffordshire hospital trust requires improvement after handover delays found

Staffordshire's main hospital trust has been told it needs to improve after a short-notice inspection found handover delays and staff shortages.

County Hospital, Stafford, is one of the hospitals run by University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
County Hospital, Stafford, is one of the hospitals run by University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) has been given a 'requires improvement' rating by the Care Quality Commission after a inspection, the same rating it achieved in 2019.

Inspectors visited the trust, which runs the Royal Stoke and County Hospital sites, in August and October.

Short-notice inspections were carried out in relation to both medicine and emergency care at the Royal Stoke and of medicine and surgery at County Hospital.

Inspectors noted that improvements had been made in the last two years, with the Caring category rating going from "good" to "outstanding" and the Leadership rating also improving to "good".

They also said they saw that staff felt respected, supported and valued and treated patients with compassion and kindness, as well as providing support to families to minimise their distress.

However, the inspection also found there were handover delays for patients arriving by ambulance and not always enough staff to keep patients safe, while staff did not always comply with recommended practice around infection risk.

The CQC has told the trust it must make various improvements to urgent and emergency care at the Royal Stoke, and medicine at County Hospital, in order to comply with its legal obligations.

These improvement include ensuring there is sufficient staff on each A&E shift to deliver effective care, and providing patients with a first assessment within 15 minutes of arrival.

Tracy Bullock, UHNM chief executive, said: "I am delighted that the hard work and commitment of our staff has been recognised.

"To be rated outstanding for caring, while managing the changes and pressures during the Covid-19 pandemic, is a fantastic achievement and a true testimony to their dedication and compassion.

"We have made some significant improvements since the CQC’s last inspection and we are pleased the inspectors found many areas of outstanding practice.

"We recognise there is still much to do and have already started work to address the areas the inspectors have highlighted for improvement.

"We are committed to providing the best possible care for our patients and have approved and begun a programme to recruit more than 30 new doctors to work in our emergency departments.

"We will continue to develop all of our services as we aim to achieve an overall rating of outstanding for both our hospitals."

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