Inspectors report raps failures at Conquest

Darren Grayson
Darren Grayson

A DAMNING report has revealed a catalogue of failures by staff at the Conquest Hospital.

Health inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted major concerns over patient safety, privacy and staffing levels in their report published on Tuesday.

During their visit in February they discovered that not all junior doctors had been properly trained and low numbers had been trained in looking after vulnerable patients.

Inspectors said care and treatment decisions in A&E were imposed on patients, rather than explained and consent sought.

One frail elderly patient in A&E who had a fractured hip, was left on a trolley for more than seven hours.

Another was put in a ward with nothing to eat all day and although a drink had been left, it was out of the patient’s reach.

In one ward patients used commodes with the only privacy being provided by a curtain.

The Conquest’s maternity unit was also slammed, as the midwife in charge on the day was not experienced to run the unit and there were insufficient numbers of staff available.

The report also revealed “significant shortages of staffing” across the hospital.

Inspectors were told by staff that they felt undervalued by managers and there was low morale in A&E, maternity and other wards, due to staff shortages and lack of support.

Eddie Barker, who is unhappy at the treatment his late mother received at the Conquest, said the report’s findings “came as no shock”.

He said: “I witnessed everything that this report highlights. One patient wet the bed and was calling out for ages for a nurse’s help. We had to find one in the end.”

Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands of the Conquest, said: “It always comes to the excuse that there are staff shortages but that’s no excuse. Patient safety and care must always come first. They (bosses) always say it’s their top priority but sometimes you wonder.”

Hastings MP Amber Rudd said the report was “worrying” and has asked to meet with trust chief executive Darren Grayson.

She said: “The report was damning and I will be staying vigilant, making sure the trust deals with this very serious criticism.”

Roxy Boyce, regional director of CQC in the south east, said: “We were so concerned about the quality of care provided to patients in many parts of the Conquest we raised immediate concerns.

“The essential standards of quality and safety laid down in law are the standards of care people should be able to expect in any hospital.

“These include respecting the dignity of patients, helping them to make informed choices about their care and treatment, ensuring their care and welfare and protecting them from unsafe practice and abuse. The care at the Conquest fell far short of these standards.

“When we returned in April to review progress, it was clear the trust has made considerable efforts to address the outstanding concerns. However, more needs to be done and the progress already made needs to be accelerated and sustained.”

Mr Grayson said he was “dismayed” by the CQC’s findings.

He said: “I would like to apologise to our patients and the public that the identified areas of care have fallen below the expected standard. “Most of our patients tell us that they get good care in our hospitals, but I cannot condone anything other than the highest standards of care and compassion for our patients.

“It is clear to me that we have further work to do to ensure the care we provide meets the highest standards in every case.

“Since February’s inspection, we have invested significantly in both time and resource, to make immediate improvements and to plan and implement medium to long-term changes to achieve sustainable improvements across all areas of concern.”

Mr Grayson said the trust had made “notable” improvements in the last year, such as its care for stroke patients and a reduction in infection rates.