MANAGEMENT at the DGH have been read the riot act and told in no uncertain terms that conditions at the hospital need to drastically improve.
An inspection team from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) slammed East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust during a visit last year and highlighted a shameful catalogue of areas in which the hospital was letting down patients.
A follow-up report was published earlier this week following a return visit and, while a raft of improvements were noted, the watchdog was far from happy.
It demanded that the DGH takes robust action to address what the inspection team found was a shortfall in meeting the needs of patients.
The CQC also formally warned the management that far more needs to be done to bring the hospital up to standard.
Among the concerns highlighted in the 55-page report were issues regarding consent to treatment, the general care and welfare of patients, staffing levels – with an over-reliance on locum doctors – and the trust’s ability to effectively monitor the quality of the services it is providing.
There was also particular attention paid to the way vulnerable people were treated.
The report said there was a lack of evidence that patients with reduced mental capacity had been given access to advocacy or that best interest meetings had taken decisions on their behalf.
The report added that it remained unclear as to how decisions around consent were being obtained for people perhaps not in a position to understand potential ramifications of treatment.
Its author wrote, “We found that Eastbourne District General Hospital was not meeting one or more essential standards,” before adding, “We are taking further action to protect the safety and welfare of people who use services.”
The trust now has until March 31 to get things up to scratch – or at the very least show signs of doing so. If it fails, the CQC has threatened severe repercussions.
Ian Biggs, the deputy director of CQC in the south, said, “This warning sends a clear message that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust needs to address these issues or face serious consequences.”
The trust’s already under-pressure chief executive Darren Grayson said that he was pleased the report did draw attention to some improvements and said that further progress had already been made since the follow-up visit on which this week’s report is based.
He told the Herald, “We are committed to improving the quality of care and outcomes for patients and aim to get every aspect of care right for all our patients all of the time.
“These reports demonstrate the improvements we had made five months ago. We have made considerable progress since then and we continue to make improvements across the trust to address all the areas the CQC has highlighted for improvement.”
However, he also warned that major improvements across the trust, which also runs the Conquest in Hastings, would “take time to deliver,” and require a “large scale cultural and service change”.
East Sussex Healthcare Trust is battling to earmark financial savings of £30million and concerns are growing locally that key services at the DGH, like maternity, could be centralised to a single site elsewhere in East Sussex.