PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission said the trust passed both of the standards relating to dignity and nutrition it inspected during a spot check as part of a wider investigation into how older patients are treated.

However, it suggested some improvements in order for the trust to maintain its performance.

The regulator checked two “essential standards” of care at two wards – Nutfield and Meadvale – during an inspection at the trust’s East Surrey Hospital, on 24 March 2011.

Inspectors talked with 11 patients and seven members of staff, as well as checking 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

The CQC concluded that overall the East Surrey Hospital was meeting both essential standards but noted minor concerns.

In its report, the regulator said: “Patients’ have their privacy, dignity and independence respected by staff. There is scope however for staff to better monitor and ensure that patients remain properly clothed or adequately covered at all times to protect their dignity while in hospital.

“There is a difference between nursing/medical and allied health professionals practice. For example, the phlebotomist demonstrated an extremely kind, discreet and caring attitude but did not draw curtains whilst performing a patient diagnostic procedure to protect people’s privacy.”

The report added: “The hospital has processes in place to make sure people do not experience poor nutrition and hydration. Patient records however are not always accurate, complete or up to date and therefore do not evidence peoples safety and wellbeing. Menu choices are not yet available to meet the full range of individual need.

“Adherence with the trust’s protected mealtime policy has recently improved but it is clearly not embraced and supported by all medical disciplines and ancillary staff groups across the hospital, and is therefore less effective.

“Staff are well trained to provide support for patients to eat and drink and were found to be attentive and considerate. Some items of food are given to patients in peel back cartons, which they clearly found difficult to open. The contents were not routinely served in other more accessible containers which meant that some people went without.

“The current provision of swallowing assessments to inpatient wards, dietetic advice and occupational therapy is overstretched and often not available to older people’s wards in a timely manner,” the report said.

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.