PERFORMANCE: Monitor has instructed an Essex foundation trust to put an action plan in place to fix what it described as “one of the worst performing accident and emergency departments in the country”.

The regulator said Southend University Hospital FT had “repeatedly failed to consistently meet the national target of seeing most A&E patients within four hours, and ensure most wait less than 18 weeks for operations”.

Southend’s failure to improve patient waiting times for emergency treatment and routine operations was “indicative of wider problems with the way the trust is led”, it added.

Monitor was also concerned about the “stability” of the trust’s executive team, which has had a high turnover in the last two years. It ordered the trust to review its board to determine whether it is fit for purpose, and to increase its clinical and management teams.

Monitor’s regional director Adam Cayley said: “This trust has had one of the worst performing A&E departments in the country. It has also failed to see other patients who have been referred for treatment quickly enough.

“It is unacceptable that patients have to wait. Monitor will not hesitate to step in and make changes to the leadership if the trust does not improve its services for its patients.”

Trust chair Alan Tobias said the trust was now “reducing waiting and delays, seeing patients in more appropriate settings, and enabling people to go home more promptly as soon as they are fit enough to leave hospital”.

Mr Tobias said the trust “recognise[d] that the number of interim appointments we had in key executive positions, plus a retirement did not promote board stability”. However, he said a number of permanent appointments had been made since the start of the year.

“We believe we are now in a much stronger position to tackle these issues and will be working hard to achieve all the undertakings and requirements we have set out with our regulator,”
he said.