A crowded emergency department and a failure to meet four-hour A&E waiting time targets are among the reasons the John Radcliffe Hospital’s A&E has retained its ‘requires improvement’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
In an unannounced visit in October last year, inspectors from the health and social care regulator visited the surgical and urgent and emergency service departments. They released a report of their findings on Tuesday this week.
The Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHT) and the JR’s surgical department received an overall good rating while urgent and emergency service’s rating under the category ‘caring’ was improved to good.
But the report said: “The emergency department had a consistently poorer median time to initial assessment for both adults and children than the England average. Patients arriving via ambulance did not consistently receive an assessment within 15 minutes of arrival.
“The department performed significantly worse than the England average on the A&E four hour waiting time target, although the percentage of patients waiting four to 12 hours from decision to admit to admission was better than the national average.”
The report also said during the time of the inspection, CQC inspectors observed crowding in emergency.
But the report praised staff for providing compassionate care and the senior management team for having a ‘clear understanding of the issues facing the department’. On surgical wards, inspectors found staff took time to ensure patients, and their relatives, understood and were involved in care and treatment plans.
Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General, said: “The report shows we were right all along, that Oxford cannot cope with the overflow. We have known it all along – it is getting the message across to the people with the power.
“Now is the time for the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to realise their plans to downgrade services at the Horton are not viable.”
The report follows the release of OUHT board papers, due to be discussed yesterday, Wednesday, that show the trust had overspent in the past year – by £5.6million on pay and £19million on non-pay items.
Dr Bruno Holthof, chief executive of OUHT said: “The trust is strengthening cost controls in the organisation in order to redirect the spending on delivering patient care. These measures do not affect the staff employed by the trust but will affect agency staff.
“We will accelerate the recruitment of medical and nursing staff on our payroll in order to reduce our monthly expenditure on agency staff.”
He added vacant posts were being reviewed by the trust and ordering procedures were being tightened.
Dr Holthof said the CQC had found improvements had been made, adding: “The trust board and I also recognise there have been great improvements in the range of services offered as part of urgent and emergency care, and we would like to thank staff in our emergency services for their continued hard work.
“The CQC has identified aspects of care in which the trust must improve and we are already in the process of producing an action plan to address these areas.”