PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission found the trust was not meeting standards relating to nutrition during a spot check as part of a wider investigation into how older patients are treated.

The regulator checked two “essential standards” of care during an inspection of wards at the trust’sBedford Hospital on 14 April.

Inspectors – including a practising nurse – observed how people were being cared for, talked with patients, talked with staff, and checked records.

The standards assessed were:

  • People should be treated with respect, involved in discussions about their care and treatment and able to influence how the service is run
  • Food and drink should meet people’s individual dietary needs

It concluded overall that Bedford Hospital had passed the essential standard for dignity, though with minor concerns noted, but had not met the standard for nutrition.

In its report, the regulator said: “People who use the service cannot always be assured that they will be consistently treated with dignity and privacy during their stay in hospital.

“Although the trust has clear policies and staff development systems in place, the inconsistencies in staff practice and understanding result in variable standards of care delivery and the Trust’s own policies not always being followed.

“There were differences between the two wards we visited. We found there was a variation in management, practices and the way that people’s care, treatment and support were made available to them.”

It added: “Patients were offered choices in their meals from a balanced and varied menu, the meals provided were sufficient to meet the tastes and preferences of most patients. However inconsistencies in the serving of the meals mean that patients’ food is sometimes cold by the time they get to eat it.

“The hospital had appropriate nutritional risk assessment procedures in place, however care planning was limited. The support services of medical and dietitian staff were in place, however at times the support provided by ward staff was insufficient to ensure those at highest risk received the support that they needed.”

The regulator visited 100 hospitals as part of its programme of inspections on older patients’ treatment and is currently publishing them in batches, of which this is the fourth.