Impromptu CQC inspection shows Queen’s Hospital waiting times still a problem

An East London hospital has been slammed by inspectors after some patients were forced to wait over 24 hours in A&E.

The Care Quality Commission told Queen’s Hospital in Romford it “requires improvement” back in January 2020 and said in a new report there were still many areas it had to work on. The hospital’s trust chief executive said there were some positives to take away and the hospital had struggled with long waiting times for many years.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors carried out an unannounced inspection at Queen’s Hospital in November, and published their findings on March 4.

The inspectors found a number of issues – one of the most significant being long waiting times and overcrowding for patients in the emergency department. They said the hospital suffered with poor communication between departments and there were delays in patients being sent home or into care homes.

The inspectors said in their report they: “Found that local services did not always work together to reduce attendances or the length of stay in the emergency department. This resulted in situations of overcrowding, compromised infection control and extended waits for treatment which impacted on outcomes for patients.

“We found examples of delays in discharge from acute medical care impacting on patient flow across urgent and emergency care pathways. This also resulted in delays in handovers from ambulance crews and prolonged waits in the emergency department due to the lack of bed capacity.

“We also found patients in the emergency department for whom a decision to admit had been made; however, they were still waiting in excess of 24 hours before being transferred to a bed on the ward. These delays exposed people to a risk of harm.”

The CQC told Queen’s Hospital it would have to work to improve A&E waiting times so patients were not waiting any longer than four hours. They added it should also improve ambulance handover times and infection control.

Queen’s Hospital is run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust, which also runs the King George Hospital in Goodmayes. BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer said the trust would work to fix the issues. He said: “I’m pleased the report recognises the positive culture and leadership in our emergency department (ED), and praises our staff for delivering compassionate care while under huge pressure.

“It also challenges us to do better to reduce the amount of time people wait in our ED. I’m sorry so many people face very long waits, and that our staff have to work in these challenging conditions.

“Queen’s Hospital has struggled with long waits for more than a decade. This time, the CQC has looked at the whole urgent care system, and their report tells us our packed ED reflects what’s happening across our part of London.

“We’re working closely with our partners to try to make sure we respond differently this time.”

Alastair Lockhart

Local Democracy Reporter