Surgery unit under fire

Pinderfields Hospital general view
Pinderfields Hospital general view

A HOSPITAL trust has been slapped with an urgent legal restriction by health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following a spot inspection at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been banned from allowing patients to remain on the unit for more than 23 hours, as a result of an unannounced inspection on September 5, in response to concerns that the specialist day unit was being used to provide longer term care without the necessary resources.

The CQC found a number of patients had stayed on the unit for more than 24 hours during July and August, and in some cases patients had stayed on the unit for four days or longer.

Inspectors criticised the unit for having no direct access to washing facilities, with patients having to use disposable cardboard bowls, no night lighting, so when patients were admitted at night – a frequent occurrence – full lighting on the ward had to be turned on.

The unit was also found to have no bedside storage, with patients’ belongings left on the floor, no inpatient catering facilities with only sandwiches and more recently microwave meals available, and unsecured access to the adjacent theatre area.

Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC northern deputy director, said: “The failings we witnessed on this unit at Pinderfields Hospital were completely unacceptable. The decision to place an urgent condition on a provider’s registration is not one we take lightly.”

The trust said it had taken immediate steps to address the concerns of the CQC, installing bedside lights and lockers, improving catering facilities, improving signage and securing theatre access. It has also installed one shower unit last weekend, with another due to be fitted this week.

Mr Bower-Brown added: “We are heartened by the trust’s rapid and positive response to our action and it is working closely in partnership with other agencies to address the issues of concern. However, we will continue to monitor the position closely.”

Stephen Eames, interim trust chief executive, said: “We would like to apologise to any patient whos experience on the day surgical unit may have fallen below the high standards we would expect.

“To our knowledge no patients have come to harm as a result of an inpatient stay on this unit. We do accept that the facilities and environment on this unit were not entirely suitable for inpatients, and we are in the process of making significant improvements so it can be used for short stays. The concerns raised by the CQC do not relate to the levels of staffing or the quality of care given.”