Following its latest Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) inspection, the A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth has been blamed for delays that have led to up to 16 ambulances being queued up outside.
The effect of on-going failures
On-going failures to meet the NHS’ target of patients being assessed within15 minutes of arrival and being seen by doctors within 4 hours have led to overcrowding, patients waiting in corridors and on trolleys, and ambulances not being able to deliver patients to hospital on arrival. On one evening in February the crisis came to a head when ambulances were late arriving at two life-threatening accidents, because they were stuck in the queue at Queen Alexandra. A tent had to be erected to protect the victims of the accident on the M27 until an ambulance was made available to attend.
Needless to say, such delays have the potential to be fatal and it is no surprise that the CQC have been scathing in Queen Alexandra’s inspection; not only because of the effect this has had on outside services, but for the quality of treatment provided to patients once they made it through the hospital doors.
The Chief Inspector of Hospitals in England, Mike Richards, has said
We identified patients with serious conditions, such as chest pain, suspected sepsis, fractured neck of the femur, and stroke, that had not been triaged, assessed and treated in a timely manner”.
patients with non-life threatening conditions were waiting long periods of time in an ambulance. Elderly frail patients were waiting in ambulances for over two hours. One patient with a learning difficulty had waited in an ambulance for over 2.5 hours”.
The CQC Report
The report acknowledged that there were good intentions at the hospital to help the A&E staff during these periods of high pressure, but that the level of increased risk had become normalised as part of day to day life at the hospital.
The Trust has said that in an attempt to improve the situation
we have changed the way in which some patients are admitted to the acute medical unit, redirecting those patients who do not need the clinical skills of the ED to other pathways and promoting the fact that GPs can refer urgent patients directly to the ambulatory services and out outpatients clinic”.
It will take time to make all the necessary improvements but we are determined to ensure that by the time of maximum demand in our emergency department, next winter, our service will be better”.
If you, or anyone you know, has been affected by a delay in ambulance response or harmed by delays in hospital treatment, contact one of our specialist medical negligence lawyers on 0800 316 8892.