Woolwich Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E 'not fit for purpose'

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Woolwich's Queen Elizabeth Hospital is "not fit for purpose" and its newly-merged health trust with Lewisham "requires improvement", inspectors say.

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals made the shocking findings in his first reports on the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust - formed last year after the closure of neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust - and its two hospitals.

The report found capacity in Queen Elizabeth's A&E - which now takes more Bexley patients since that borough's emergency department closed and would have taken more Lewisham ones if a planned government downgrade there had gone ahead - was limited with a heavy reliance on agency staff.

This was leading to delays in further investigation taking place and specialist advice being sought following patient admission via A&E.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital was rated as inadequate for its A&E, good for its maternity and family planning services, but requires improvement in its other services.

Lewisham Hospital, meanwhile, was rated as good for its intensive and critical care and children’s care - also threatened with a downgrade by the government's failed plans - but required improvement for all other services inspected.

The report found both hospitals were using different models of acute medical pathway, and neither of these led to efficient patient movement between different services. In some wards, patients told inspectors that they felt there was a lack of staff as it could take up to 30 minutes for call bells to be answered.

And it said that, although recruitment programmes were in place to try and fill vacancies, inspectors observed staff shortages in many areas.

Chief Inspector of Hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said: "While we would acknowledge that this is a relatively new trust, we identified issues in both hospitals which we require it to take action to improve.

"The biggest problem here is in the A&E at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which we have rated as Inadequate. Waiting times there regularly exceed the four hour target, there isn’t enough space for the number of people using the service, and the patient pathway from A&E to the ward doesn’t work as well as it should.

"Most patients we spoke to across both sites praised the caring nature of the staff looking after them, and told us that they were treated with respect and dignity. We saw this for ourselves – although the trust still has some work to do for this feedback to be universally positive.

"We’ve rated this trust as Requires Improvement overall. The trust has told us it will take action – and we’ll return in due course to make sure that it has done so."

A spokesman for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said: "As a new organisation, formed in October 2013, we welcomed this inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  It complemented quality assessments we had been carrying out ourselves to ensure we have a good understanding of how our services are performing and to identify areas where we need to improve.

"We were pleased to find that there were many positives recognised in the CQC’s report.  We will be making sure that we build on what we do well and learn from best practice within the organisation.

"The report focuses in particular on Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s A&E.  The trust had already identified a number of these issues, and has been working with partners to reduce patient waits and improve the flow of patients through the department.  We are also developing plans to improve the facilities so patients are treated in the right environment.

"While much progress has already been made, we have lots to do and over the next month we will be developing an action plan in response to all the issues highlighted by the CQC.  We are pleased to have the full support of our partners and look forward to working with them to deliver significant improvements for local people."

Comments (6)

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9:40am Tue 13 May 14

concerned.erith says...

The whole hospital is not fit fur purpose. Nurses are great though.
The whole hospital is not fit fur purpose. Nurses are great though. concerned.erith
  • Score: 8

9:51am Tue 13 May 14

white rabbit9 says...

Hospitals are now a designated killing zone. Population has to be cut according to the government. inverted.
Hospitals are now a designated killing zone. Population has to be cut according to the government. inverted. white rabbit9
  • Score: -52

10:24am Tue 13 May 14

mumcabs says...

The hospital is having to cope with thousands and thousands of extra A & E patients because Queen Mary's Hospital no longer have an A & E (or a maternity unit) which is absolutely disgusting. I think the staff at Queen Elizabeth are wonderful though.
The hospital is having to cope with thousands and thousands of extra A & E patients because Queen Mary's Hospital no longer have an A & E (or a maternity unit) which is absolutely disgusting. I think the staff at Queen Elizabeth are wonderful though. mumcabs
  • Score: 19

1:37pm Tue 13 May 14

Joelo says...

My mum spent a lot of her final months in Queen Elizabeth and I have to say that the whole experience was shocking, including some dealings with most (not all) of the nursing staff.

If I ever need hospital care I will go anywhere but the queen elizabeth.
My mum spent a lot of her final months in Queen Elizabeth and I have to say that the whole experience was shocking, including some dealings with most (not all) of the nursing staff. If I ever need hospital care I will go anywhere but the queen elizabeth. Joelo
  • Score: 3

4:28pm Tue 13 May 14

RoyalFactor says...

The vote and salary-grabbing activities of some of our local politicians really need examining now. We were promised that Queen Mary's A&E would be saved if the Conservatives won in 2010. It wasn't and they stopped any work they even thought of on our hospitals as soon as the last vote was counted. Many worked hard to save Lewisham, we have no such representation in Bexley, Sidcup, Chislehurst or Bromley. The situation is summarised here: http://theroyalfacto
r.blogspot.co.uk/201
3/05/real-life-cynic
al-politicians.html
The vote and salary-grabbing activities of some of our local politicians really need examining now. We were promised that Queen Mary's A&E would be saved if the Conservatives won in 2010. It wasn't and they stopped any work they even thought of on our hospitals as soon as the last vote was counted. Many worked hard to save Lewisham, we have no such representation in Bexley, Sidcup, Chislehurst or Bromley. The situation is summarised here: http://theroyalfacto r.blogspot.co.uk/201 3/05/real-life-cynic al-politicians.html RoyalFactor
  • Score: 3

6:37pm Thu 22 May 14

Mrs S Bates says...

The hospital failed my brother & we r still waiting for justice almost 2 years on! They believe they are doing all they can when they are just putting peoples lives @ risk -why have a A&E department when it seems clear that the staff are incompetent in making desisions to save people.
The hospital failed my brother & we r still waiting for justice almost 2 years on! They believe they are doing all they can when they are just putting peoples lives @ risk -why have a A&E department when it seems clear that the staff are incompetent in making desisions to save people. Mrs S Bates
  • Score: 0

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