Breaking news: Warning notice for East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken enforcement action against East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust because it has failed to protect the safety and welfare of people who use its service.

The enforcement action is in the form of a Warning Notice which requires the trust to make urgent improvement to patient care.

In February this year CQC carried out a routine review of all five hospitals which make up the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust. Inspectors identified that there were insufficient numbers of staff available to support proper patient care in some areas and that care plans and risk assessments were not completed or were inaccurate.

Immediate concerns were raised with the Trust, but on a follow up visit in April, CQC inspectors found that the trust was still failing to meet essential standards of quality and safety at Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest Hospital at St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings.

Although some improvement was identified, inspectors still found that patient records were inaccurate or incomplete and patients had not been given appropriate risk assessments, leading to a risk of unsafe care. On a separate unannounced inspection visit in May, inspectors also observed that patients did not always receive the help they needed to eat and drink.

Roxy Boyce, CQC Regional Director for the South East said: “Despite the fact we have raised these concerns with the Trust previously, they have not addressed them satisfactorarily. There have been some improvements – but not enough.

“Failure to properly complete risk assessments and patient records means that people are not protected against the risk of unsafe care, while help with eating and drinking for those who need it is one of the basic fundamentals of care.

“This warning notice sends a clear and public message that this Trust now needs to address these shortcomings as a matter of urgency or face very serious consequences.”

The warning notice finds that the trust is in breach of regulation 9 (1)

(b)(i)(ii), meaning that it is failing to ensure the care and welfare of service users, and to protect each service user against the risks of receiving unsafe or inappropriate care or treatment.

A deadline of September 2 has been given for improvement. If this deadline is not meet, the enforcement options available to the CQC range from prosecution to restriction of services