Health Watchdog Says Hospital Must Improve

Southend University Hospital NHS Trust ‘One Of The Worst In Country’

25.06.2014

Health watchdog Monitor has branded Southend Hospital's A&E unit as one of the worst in the country and ordered the trust to take a series of urgent steps after it failed to make improvements in services.

Southend University Hospital NHS Trust, which runs the facility, has been told to improve its operations so that patient safety is a priority.

One of the main issues found by inspectors was long waiting times, with a number of sick people forced to wait for hours before being triaged, resulting in poor outcomes and lowered staff morale, reports the BBC.

Monitor was also concerned about the stability of the trust's executive team, which has had a "very high" turnover of members in the last two years, meaning a number of initiatives were not seen through to completion.

Monitor's regional director Adam Cayley warned: "This trust has had one of the worst performing A&E departments in the country. It has also failed to see other patients who have been referred for treatment quickly enough.

"It is unacceptable that patients have to wait. Monitor will not hesitate to step in and make changes to the leadership if the trust does not improve its services for its patients."

This is not the first time Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been under-fire.

In 2011, the trust was blasted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for failing to meet the basic needs of people requiring mental health care.

The key weakness found by inspectors was that there was not a single policy directive on how the hospital should help people in desperate need of mental health assistance, despite other neighbouring trusts doing this.

Poor recruitment practices have also been an issue at the hospital, which hired a known sex offender in 2012.

The person, who has not been named, saw eight patients before he was dismissed - although nobody is thought to have been harmed in his time working at the trust.

Alan Tobias, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust chairman, said: "We believe we are now in a much stronger position to tackle these issues and will be working hard to achieve all the undertakings and requirements we have set out with our regulator.

"I am under no illusion and want to assure our local community we must and will get this right because it is in the best interests of our patients, which is what drives the board and the trust."

Expert Opinion
The findings of Monitor’s inspectors are deeply concerning and we are pleased to see that further action will be taken if things do not improve.

“It is vital A&E departments have the resource and suitably trained staff to examine patients quickly and refer them on for the appropriate treatment and care at specialist wards.

“When this does not happen, it puts additional strain on other services which could have been prevented.

“Patient safety must be the top priority for all health care providers and we hope the trust will take immediate action to ensure this is the case at Southend Hospital.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner