The London hospital whose emergency and maternity departments were saved from the Government axe after a community campaign “requires improvement”, health watchdogs said today.
The Care Quality Commission ordered a series of changes at Lewisham hospital including tackling staff shortages, ensuring doctors wash their hands between patients and safe storage of clinical waste.
More serious failings were found at its new sister hospital, Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich. Its accident and emergency department was “not fit for purpose”, with inspectors reporting “serious concerns” about the safety of its services.
Both hospitals were rated as “requires improvement” overall, though Lewisham was rated “good” for its intensive and critical care and children’s care. Queen Elizabeth was rated “good” for maternity and family planning.
Today’s report said in relation to Queen Elizabeth’s casualty department:
“We saw issues with cleanliness, with use and disposal of clinical materials (eg needles) and with unsafe storage and disposal of clinical waste. We saw lack of vital equipment (ie resuscitation trolleys), low staffing and lack of security.”
Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said:
“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.”
Patients at both hospitals praised the staff as kind, caring and treating them with dignity, though inspectors said that at Queen Elizabeth, a “small number are letting their colleagues down”.
The report is the first into Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust, which was formed last October after the Court of Appeal rejected Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s attempt to downgrade the A&E and maternity departments at Lewisham. That was sought by Mr Hunt as a way of reconfiguring care in south-east London following the collapse of South London Healthcare trust, of which Queen Elizabeth was part.