PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission has taken ‘urgent action’ against Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust following an unannounced inspection of its accident and emergency services.

The watchdog has imposed a condition on the trust’s registration and issued it with three warning notices following an inspection of the A&E units at Worcestershire Royal and Alexandra hospitals on 24 March.

The trust’s urgent and emergency services have been beset by troubles in recent months.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust

The CQC issued the trust with three warning notices following inspections of its A&E units

Earlier this year it was hit by the resignation of five A&E consultants who wrote an open letter to the trust’s management accusing them of undermining services at Alexandra Hospital. The trust’s five divisional medical directors challenged the consultant’s interpretation of events in a response letter.

It also appeared in the national media last month after a “disaster doctor” was drafted in to help relieve A&E pressures at Worcestershire Royal.

The CQC is yet to publish its inspection report, but a spokeswoman told HSJ its warning notices said the trust needed to “take action with regard to staffing, the safety and suitability of equipment and the safety of the premises”.

She said the CQC had taken “urgent action” to impose a condition on the trust to ensure “the right number of appropriately qualified and skilled staff were always on duty at Worcestershire Royal and… effective systems [were] in place for properly assessing patients on their arrival in the department”.

She added that the watchdog would “continue to monitor the situation at the trust closely” and would reinspect it to check on progress.

In a statement, Worcestershire Acute said it had “made a number of immediate changes and identified plans to ensure all the CQC’s recommendations are carried out”.

The trust said it had put in place measures including increasing the number of assessment cubicles, allocating dedicated space for triage and appointing extra non-clinical staff to support its clinical teams.

In addition to the concerns raised by the CQC, a recent report by Worcestershire Health and Wellbeing Board revealed that the trust was the focus of a risk summit in March chaired by NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

The summit discussed concerns about the mortality rate in emergency surgery at Alexandra Hospital.

It flagged worries about the trust’s “counting and reporting of delayed transfers of care”, which it said “did not have the support of partners” and had resulted in data being reported that “has not been recognised by other organisations”.

The risk summit also noted a concern that the trust’s board “had not been fully informed about the range and seriousness of some of the quality concerns”.