A catalogue of failures in Brighton’s A&E department have been revealed in a damning report.

The study published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) yesterday shows that the Royal Sussex County Hospital failed to reach four out of six national standards it was being checked on.

Hospital bosses had declared a “crisis” at the Royal Sussex in January because staff were struggling to cope with a surge in the number of patients.

Inspectors visited the hospital four times in April – after the Royal Sussex had come out of the official crisis period – over concerns raised about long waits and a shortage of beds.

However, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex, said changes had already been put in place to deal with the problems raised and its A&E department was now working well.

Officials declared they were in crisis on January 10 and said they had emerged from it on March 13.

Yet failures recorded in April include patients being forced to use bedpans in a cluttered plaster room because A&E was so overcrowded and an elderly patient falling and fracturing a hip because of the lack of a protective mattress where they were being cared for.

Another patient spent three nights on a day surgery ward that was not equipped for overnight stays, and did not have proper shower or washing facilities, because no suitable bed was available on an ordinary ward.

The hospital was criticised for:

- Failing to treat patients with respect and discuss their treatment.

- Failing to ensure patients got safe and appropriate care that met their needs and supported their rights.

- Failing to make sure staff were properly trained and supervised and given the chance to develop their skills, and

- Failing to make sure a proper system was in place to identify and manage any risk to the health and safety of people using the hospital.

The CQC team said the department did meet two standards – that enough staff were working to meet demand, and that it was co- operating with other organi- sations involved in care, such as the ambulance service.

CQC regional director Ian Biggs said: “It is well documented that NHS emergency departments have been under severe strain – but that’s even more reason to ensure that people are not kept in hospital longer than they really need to be there.

“Patients are entitled to be treated in services which are safe, effective, caring, well led, and responsive to their needs, and where a service is failing on any of these grounds, action is needed.

“The trust has told us that it has already taken action to improve care and treatment for its patients.

“We will return unannounced in due course to check that it has made the changes required.”

A trust spokesman said: “It was widely reported that over the winter our emergency department came under a sustained period of pressure due to a number of factors within and outside of the trust.

“Unfortunately this meant the systems we have did not work as effectively as we would have wanted and led to some patients having to wait in the emergency department for longer than was acceptable.

“To deal with the issue, we asked the Department of Health’s Emergency Care Intensive Support Team in January to help us produce an action plan to improve the flow of patients coming through our emergency departments and we began to see significant improvements from the end of April.

“During May and June we have consistently met the four hour target to assess, treat and discharge or admit patients coming into A&E.

“We recognise there is still considerable work to be done within the trust and each ele- ment of our action plan is led by a senior clinician and is focused on a key part of the journey our patients follow.

“This works remains a real priority for the trust.”


Don’t miss Saturday’s Big Interview with Adrian Twyning who runs A&E services at the Royal Sussex in Brighton.