Kent

East Kent Hospital Trust 'still needs to improve'

William Harvey Hospital
Image caption The CQC highlighted concerns over patient safety at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford

A health trust with the second-worst record in England for treating emergency patients has been warned it still needs to improve.

East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust has been issued with improvement notices in four of five categories following its latest Care Quality Commission inspection.

The CQC said the trust had improved since its last inspection, but its ratings remained the same.

The trust said it was addressing the areas of concern as priorities.

Data obtained by the BBC in April revealed East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust's record of dealing with A&E patients within the required four hours was worse than those in all but one other trust in England.

Concern at conditions was also highlighted in a leaked internal letter following the death of a patient at the hospital earlier this year.

In the CQC's latest report, following an inspection in May, it says the trust - whose five hospitals include the William Harvey in Ashford, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital - had again failed to meet the standard in the year from February 2017 to January 2018.

The report said bottlenecks in emergency departments were created by a shortage of beds in other departments.

Inspectors also expressed concern at facilities at the William Harvey, where the environment "did not always enhance patient safety, with the major treatment area and children's treatment area too small for the numbers of patients".

Image caption The trust has asked for government money to expand the A&E departments at the QEQM hospital in Margate and the William Harvey in Ashford

East Kent was however, given a good rating for caring services.

A spokeswoman for the trust, which was placed in special measures from 2014 until 2017, highlighted areas of "outstanding practice" mentioned by the CQC, including use of technology and maternity education, and said it was treating the areas where improvements were required as priorities.

Chief executive Susan Acott said the trust had applied for extra funding to expand emergency departments and would recruit extra staff there.

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