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CQC inspectors say further improvements needed at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) made unannounced visits to hospitals run by the University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust in September and October 2021 which raised concerns about staff shortages, skills training and risk management. This led to a warning notice being served on the Trust in December 2021 by the CQC.

In April 2022, the CQC carried out a further unannounced focussed inspection which found the Trust had implemented enough improvements to meet the warning notices in the maternity departments. However, it was said that “very little improvement had taken place in surgery at the trust” since the last inspection. The CQC reported that staff did not feel supported, and it is worrying that those without necessary skills, competence and training were caring for patients.

Carolyn Jenkinson, CQC Head of Hospital Inspection, said:

“We also found the number of cancellations for emergency surgery worrying. There was a lack of oversight around complications for patients associated with delays and cancellations of emergency surgery. Medical staff we spoke with told us that the management of these wasn’t good enough, meetings were often cancelled and poorly attended.

“This is something we need the trust to resolve as a matter of urgency and with that in mind we have now imposed conditions upon the registration of the trust to ensure immediate and significant improvements are forthcoming.”

In the emergency department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital the inspectors found that patients were frequently accommodated in non-clinical areas such as corridors. As a result, discussions between medical staff and patients were not always confidential and discreet. There were also long delays in ambulance handovers and an increasing number of patients in the department for over 12 hours after a decision had been made to admit them. 

The April inspection was only to check on the progress of improvements and as such, the ratings for maternity and surgery remain rated as inadequate. The emergency department at Royal Sussex County Hospitals’ rating has however moved from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ following the April inspection.

The CQC are going to continue to monitor the Trust and will return to check further improvements are made.

To read the full CQC report please visit their website.

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