King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital: 'Inadequate' trust still failing patients

Ambulances outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn Image copyright Anita Hodgson
Image caption The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, will remain in special measures

Services at an "inadequate" hospital continue to fall short of what patients should expect, said inspectors.

The trust at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn had shown "little evidence of improvement" since being put in special measures in 2018.

The Care Quality Commission also intervened to fix severe failings in emergency and mental health services.

The trust said it had already made changes since the March inspection, and improvement was a "relentless focus".

But chief executive Caroline Shaw warned there was much work to be done.

"We will not be out of special measures within six months. I would envisage it will take two years - it will be 2021," she said.

The hospital, in west Norfolk, was rated "inadequate" for whether its services were safe, effective and well-led, while it was given "requires improvement" for the whether they were caring and responsive.

Prof Ted Baker, the CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, said: "It was extremely concerning to find little evidence of improvement on our return to the Queen Elizabeth King's Lynn Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

"Improvements that needed to be made had not been made and the service fell short of what people should be able to expect."

Image caption Inspectors found "little evidence" of service improvement in the past year

Inspectors found "significant concerns" within emergency services, medicine, end-of-life care and gynaecology.

"Many of these concerns had previously been identified at our inspection in 2018, yet necessary improvements had not been made," added Prof Baker.

The CQC also called for improvements in the trust's board functions and clinical leadership, and for a more effective way to be found to act on recommendations.

It wants risk assessments to be carried out for all A&E patients to identify those at risk of self-harm or suicide, and a better system to ensure "sufficient numbers" of staff.

Hospital chairman Prof Steve Barnett has written an open letter to patients, vowing to "turn this organisation around".

He said a new leadership team was being put in place, and that the trust had "a bright future ahead".

"We are absolutely determined to get this right for our patients. There are some success stories, lots of work in progress and also some very real challenges that we have begun tackling," he said.

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