Pressing need for changes at Whipps Cross Hospital

A report released by an NHS watchdog has concluded that a hospital in East London is unclean and a danger to patients, following revelations that mothers and their newborn babies faced a high risk of infection in the maternity unit.

Whipps Cross University Hospital was found to be treating patients in wards with dirty floors and overflowing bins and also failed to provide curtains for many patients on the maternity ward. The Care Quality Commission did not only condemn the Leytonstone hospital for its failures in this area but also criticised the hospitals treatment of the elderly and the conditions in surgical wards.

The Barts Health NHS Trusts to which the hospital belongs has now received its third formal caution from the CQC after random inspections, making it clear that the hospital will be seriously punished if hygiene and care standards are not dramatically improved. This could even lead to managers being struck off by Monitor, the UK’s health regulatory body.

Within the CQC report were accounts of women who had gone into labour, waiting for hours to be seen because of the lack of doctors. Indeed, it appears that a plethora of medical and other failures were uncovered during the random inspections carried out by CQC officials this summer. The standard of care being provided to patients was far the level that could be reasonably expected of an NHS hospital and wards across the hospital were found to be unhygienic.

Inspectors also discovered an issue with staffing, which was particularly problematic on elderly care wards. Elderly patients would go without food or drink because staff members were not around to assist them and sometimes meals were simply left to far away from the patient. The report added that these patients were not treated with the respect and caring attitude that they were entitled to.

This absence of expertise also affected the surgery department, where experts in life support for children were often off-duty when they were needed the most.

The death rate for patients in surgery far exceeded the NHS average – a cause of great concern for hospital managers. Furthermore, in the 24 weeks before inspectors arrived, the hospital had fallen well short of the NHS target to see patients with 4 hours of arrival in A and E.

The CQC has placed the Bart Health NHS Trust amongst 5 other trusts considered to be high risk. Sir Mike Richards who is in charge at the CQC has introduced strict measures in an attempt to get tough on unsafe hospitals and further unannounced visits from inspectors will be made in the coming months to check that improvements have been made.

The hospital has issued an apology and stressed that it is making every possible effort to drive up standards and ensure the safety of all patients.

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