A hospital facing an increased number of emergency patients and births under a controversial shake-up of A&Es and maternity departments was today criticised by the NHS watchdog.
West Middlesex hospital, in Isleworth, became the fifth west London NHS trust in a year to have its failings exposed by the Care Quality Commission – even before it has to deal with an influx of patients under the Shaping A Healthier Future plans.
Inspectors gave it a rating of “requires improvement” and said inadequate numbers of nurses and A&E consultants posed a risk to patient safety.
But they found “good” care in a number of areas. The A&E department had a “calm and well-managed response to very heavy emergency demand”. The A&E and urgent care centre treat 137,000 patients a year.
The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said of the inspection, carried out last November and December: “We found that, while staff were caring and compassionate – and some were going the extra mile for patients, some of the services we looked at required improvement.
“Our overall findings highlight the level of variation that can be found within the same organisation.”
A shortage of more than 17 midwives and nine maternity assistants meant there was one midwife for every 36 births, compared to the national target of one for every 28.
Patients requiring admission from A&E to specialist wards waited an average of four hours 50 minutes – more than double the national average of two hours 20 minutes.
The hospital, which serves Richmond and Hounslow, is due to merge this summer with Chelsea and Westminster hospital and undergo a major rebuild in 2017/18 to cope with extra patients diverted as a result of the closure of neighbouring units under Shaping A Healthier Future.
West Middlesex chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell said: “Despite our obvious strengths and caring attitudes of staff, there are some areas requiring improvement. The report made clear the issues we must focus on and we have been working collaboratively with our health and social care colleagues to address some of these.”