Latest inspection shows some improvement at Basildon Hospital

An Essex hospital has seen a number of improvements in its service provision following the publication of its latest inspection report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

After inspections were carried out in January and February of this year, Basildon University Hospital, one of three ‘large acute’ centres operated in the county by the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, was rated as ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures.

However, a report from the latest CQC inspection in July published on October 27 shows that this rating has been upgraded, and is now listed as ‘requires improvement’.

Assessing whether care delivered at the Basildon facility was ‘safe’, ‘effective’ and ‘well-led’, it was found that all three categories’ ratings had been improved to ‘requires improvement’.

After the previous inspections at the start of the year, the CQC had issued a warning notice to Basildon University Hospital under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 due to “concerns relating to poor governance, incomplete risk assessments, incomplete patient records, equipment not being maintained, patients’ nutrition and hydration needs not being met and medication not being managed in line with the service’s medicines policy.”

It was found that as well as being critically understaffed, the hospital staff on many shifts “did not always respect patients’ privacy and dignity”, audit checks were rarely completed or carried out correctly regarding risk assessments, and maintaining medical equipment or administering medication.

Due to broken microwaves and a lack of personnel on wards, there were also no ‘protected’ meal times, which led to patients going without an acceptable quantity and standard of nutrition and hydration.

In one instance, a bin intended for the disposal of sharp objects was being used to catch water from a leak.

As the inspection in July was a reassessment during which not every breach identified in the January and February inspections was revisited and previous improvement notices remained in place. This meant that the new rating was capped at ‘requires improvement’.

However, comments in the latest inspection report stated that staff “gave patients enough food and drink to meet their needs and improve their health”, “supported patients to make informed decisions about their care and treatment”, and “completed and updated risk assessments for each patient and removed or minimised risks”.

The report also said: “Leaders operated effective governance processes, throughout the service. Staff at all levels were clear about their roles and accountabilities and had regular opportunities to meet, discuss and learn from the performance of the service.”

In a statement published online, chief executive of Mid and South Essex NHS Trust Matthew Hopkins said: “We are on an improvement journey, which has been recognised by our quick turnaround from inadequate in July to requires improvement now.

“This is a positive step forward and inspectors clearly recognised the raft of improvements that have been put in place.

“These changes are having an impact and we were able to demonstrate our commitment to providing a quality, safe, effective, and caring service.

“I recognise we still have some way to go and I am adamant we will continue to improve, providing the safe, high-quality care our community rightly deserves.”

Emma Doyle

Local Democracy Reporter