Patients “at risk” at the Conquest

PATIENTS at the Conquest Hospital have been put at risk by a lack of proper care but bosses have ruled out closing the maternity unit there.

Last week the Observer reported that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had raised concerns about safety both at the Conquest and the Eastbourne District General Hospital, and demanded that the East Sussex Hospitals Trust (ESHT) take urgent steps to rectify the situation. This led to speculation that one of the maternity units could close, much to the dismay of campaigners who fought off similar plans in 2007.

But yesterday Darren Grayson, the ESHT chief executive moved to quell the speculation. He said: “We would like to stress that there are no plans for the closure of either maternity unit. We are continuing to take steps to ensure that safe staffing levels are maintained so that our units offer the highest quality care to women and their partners and meet the required CQC standards.

“We will also work with the CQC to address any concerns that remain when they review our compliance over the following months.”

In a short statement released this week, the CQC suggested that they were worried about patient care across the board not just in the maternity wards. It said: “The CQC can confirm that concerns have been raised with the trust around the quality of services being provided to patients in accident and emergency, the maternity unit and the wards.

“Inspectors identified that there were insufficient numbers of staff available to support proper patient care, putting patients at risk. They also identified that care plans and risk assessments were sometimes not completed or were inaccurate.”

The CQC has given the ESHT until the end of the month to come up with a plan to address the commission’s concerns, and said its full report would be issued shortly.

Amber Rudd MP, had this week pledged to fight “tooth and nail” to keep the maternity ward open, and has asked for a debate about maternity services in Hastings in the House of Commons. She said: “I am cautiously reassured by this but the CQC have clearly made some criticisms and we do not just want the maternity unit to be open, we want it to be first rate. I will remain on the front foot on this.”