PERFORMANCE: Hospital inspectors have expressed ‘urgent concern’ at the risk to patients arriving by ambulance at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust’s main emergency department where they saw severe overcrowding.

The Care Quality Commission has rated the trust “requires improvement” following inspections earlier this year.

Inspectors found variation in the quality and safety of services delivered throughout the Queen Alexandra Hospital, the trust’s main site in the city, according to a report published today.

Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

The CQC issued two warning notices to the trust in February and March

Chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards said: “We saw severe overcrowding in the A&E department, which meant that some patients with serious conditions had waited over an hour to be assessed.

“Patients were not appropriately monitored and observed, and there was a high risk of their condition deteriorating during this time.

“Despite these pressures, I recognise that the trust has a culture of compassionate care. Many patients and relatives told us that although staff were very busy, they were supported with compassion, patience, dignity and respect, with time being given to the delivery of personalised care.”

Separately, the CQC issued two warning notices to the trust after initial inspection visits in February and March requiring immediate improvements be made in the emergency department.

Inspectors have since returned and found that improvements have been made. 

The regulator pointed out the while the trust has a three year strategy to transform services and reduce hospital services, these priorities had been “underdeveloped” while the trust continues to deal with capacity issues.

While the trust was found to provide effective service and was rated “outstanding” in its caring, it was rated “requires improvement” for providing services that are safe, responsive and well led.

Inspectors also found several areas of “outstanding” practice at the trust.

Trust chief executive Ursula Ward said: “At the time of the CQC inspection, our emergency department was particularly busy and was suffering from the consequences of our continual struggle to maintain steady flow throughout the unscheduled care pathway.

“The CQC identified particular concerns regarding the overcrowding within the [department] and the subsequent impact on the patient experience.

“We have recognised these findings and have already made significant improvements which were recognised by the CQC in a follow-up visit.

“A detailed action plan is in place to continue improvement in those areas identified within the report.”