Emergency care improvements urged
A scandal-hit health trust is still not meeting recommendations on improvements in its accident and emergency department, a watchdog has found.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook an investigation of the delivery of emergency care services at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Cumbria.
A report following a follow up review in April this year by a team of eight CQC inspectors found of the 40 recommendations made in the original investigation, seven have been met, 30 are partly met and three remain outstanding.
On the follow-up visit, the team found evidence of improvement in the safety and quality of emergency care and governance and management systems had been strengthened at Trust and departmental level.
The CQC said the trust must take action to ensure suitably qualified and experienced paediatric staff are available at all times within the A&E department and must improve its complaints handling systems to make sure that complaints are responded to fully and in a timely manner, demonstrating that changes to practice have been introduced as a result.
The CQC, the regulator of health and social care in England, has come under scathing criticism for its handling of whistleblowers and general competence following the Mid-Staffs Hospital scandal and its regulation of maternity services at the Morecambe Bay trust.
It said the report into A&E at the Morecambe Bay Trust "marks the end of our formal investigation" but it will "continue to monitor the trust closely."
Malcolm Bower-Brown, the CQC's regional director for the North said: "Although we are pleased to report evidence of improvement since our original investigation last year, with only seven of 40 recommendations met in full, there is still a great deal of work to be done to deliver and sustain the further improvements in the safety and effectiveness of services that are required at the trust.
"We will continue to monitor the trust closely over the coming months until we are assured that the required service improvements are fully embedded and patients are receiving safe and effective services on a sustainable basis."
The maternity unit at one of the trust's hospitals, Furness General Hospital, is at the centre of an on-going police investigation concerning a number of baby deaths.