Hereford & Worcester

Worcestershire Royal Hospital helped after 'disaster doctor' enlisted

Worcestershire Royal Hospital Image copyright Other
Image caption The medical incident officer cared for eight patients at Worcestershire Royal Hospital on 10 April

An NHS trust where a "disaster doctor" was called to assist its under-pressure A&E department is to get more support.

Ambulance bosses brought in the doctor, usually on call for major disasters, at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Now, the NHS Trust Development Authority had said it will appoint an improvement director at the hospital.

It confirmed that despite pressures, staff had "high levels of commitment to patient safety". The trust itself has not commented on the move.

The doctor, known as a medical incident officer, cared for eight patients at the hospital, on 10 April.

West Midlands Ambulance Service, which decided to call in the doctor, said the decision was "unprecedented" and "not taken lightly".

'Sustainable changes'

Last week, the hospitals trust said a peak over the previous two weekends was caused by a 15% increase in blue light ambulance calls, a figure disputed by the ambulance service.

The development authority said the hospitals trust was "facing considerable challenges" and additional senior clinical support would be provided.

It added the support staff being brought in would work with the hospitals trust "on immediate and sustainable changes to overcome the current challenges" it faced.

Emergency departments under pressure

  • A paramedic, Stuart Gardner, blew the whistle on overcrowding in Worcester's corridors in January
  • In February, five emergency specialists left the trust claiming the "massive overcrowding" was a disgrace and caused "serious harm" to many patients
  • On 23 March the BBC reported two cardiac arrests in the corridor in one week and 28 patients waiting to access the emergency department
  • The following day the Care Quality Commission undertook an unannounced inspection. A day later a risk summit took place involving all health parties in the county
  • All routine surgery was cancelled ahead of the Easter holiday to free up beds and ensure the smooth running of Accident and Emergency

The authority said it had commissioned reviews into how emergency care could be improved and to investigate allegations around bullying and harassment and these reviews were expected to report shortly.

A spokesperson for the authority said: "Despite significant pressures, staff in the emergency departments and ambulance service are demonstrating very high levels of commitment to maintain patient safety.

"We will support the trust and its staff as they work with local health and social care partners to deliver necessary improvements."

The authority provides support, oversight and governance for NHS trusts.

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