PERFORMANCE: An unannounced Care Quality Commission inspection of the Royal Sussex County Hospital’s emergency department has found overcrowding and a lack of board progress in addressing inspectors’ concerns.

  • Patient safety compromised because patients not assessed quickly enough, report finds
  • Overcrowding meant patients were left waiting on trolleys and wheelchairs when cubicles full
  • Trust has not “comprehensively addressed” concerns raised previously by CQC

The regulator has today rated Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust’s urgent and emergency services “inadequate” following its inspection of these services in June.

Patient safety was compromised because the initial assessment of patients was not done quickly enough, the newly released report concludes.

Overcrowding meant patients were lined up on trolleys, wheelchairs or chairs when cubicles were full. This was identified by the CQC in an inspection in May last year, but the trust’s response had “not been sufficient to mitigate the risk”.

Image of Royal Sussex County Hospital

Source: Alamy

Initial assessment of patients at Royal Sussex County Hospital was not done quickly enough, the CQC found

The trust only saw 91.1 per cent of patients within four hours according to the latest data which covers August, against the national 95 per cent target.

Inspectors reported that staffing numbers and the skill mix “did not support” a timely assessment of patients arriving at the emergency department.

The trust has not “comprehensively addressed” recommendations from previous reports, including from the Emergency Care Intensive Support Team and a CQC compliance action issued in May last year.

Despite “intense operational pressure” staff provided “compassionate and good clinical care” to patients.

However, safeguarding training for senior staff needed to be increased “to protect patients from abuse”. All junior doctors had received this training.

Brighton and Sussex chief executive Matthew Kershaw said: “We recognise the issues raised by the CQC regarding urgent and emergency care, and we are making significant changes to how we work across the hospital, and with partner organisations, that will help us make real improvements to how we care for our patients.

“Specialist surgical and medical clinicians are now working alongside the emergency department team to ensure patients are seen by the right clinical teams earlier, which will lead to quicker assessment and treatment.

“We are also improving the way we provide tests, treatments and therapies for patients on our wards, which will help patients return home quicker, freeing up space for other patients who need to be admitted to a hospital bed. We have opened a ward at Princess Royal [University] Hospital to give us additional beds and more beds will become available soon on a new community ward in Newhaven.

“These changes have been endorsed as the right approach by the Care Quality Commission, the [NHS] Trust Development Authority, NHS England, our clinical commissioning groups and Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, and we are absolutely determined to get this right.

“I know that we need to do more and we need to do it quicker, and the board and the whole trust are committed to making that happen. I am pleased the CQC recognised that our staff provide good clinical care and highlighted the good feedback they received from patients. We now have to ensure that the entire experience of every patient in our care matches those standards and I am confident these changes will help us achieve that.”