Damning report leaves Eastbourne DGH reeling

Eastbourne District General Hospital
Eastbourne District General Hospital

HOSPITAL managers are reeling after a stinging report on the standard of care has revealed a litany of errors by hospital staff.

Health inspectors raised a number of ‘major concerns’ over basic standards of patient privacy and dignity, abuse, cleanliness and staffing in a report published on Tuesday (May 17). The Care Quality Commission singled out the DGH’s maternity ward, A&E and the wards as areas of particular concern.

In their brief visit to the DGH, the CQC discovered careless clinicians left semi-naked patients in full view of others, an injured man was left on a ward floor for an hour and staff neglected to conceal a dead body from other patients.

The report, based on a routine inspection carried out in February, also branded the Jevington Ward with ‘institutionalised abuse’ – described as mistreatment of people because of poor practice.

Roxy Boyce, regional director of the CQC in the South East, said, “The essential standards of quality and safety laid down in law are the standards of care people should be able to expect in any hospital.

“These include respecting the dignity of patients, helping them to make informed choices about their care and treatment, ensuring their care and welfare and protecting them from unsafe practice and abuse.

“The care at East Sussex Healthcare Trust fell far short of these standards.”

East Sussex Healthcare Trust chief executive Darren Grayson said he was ‘dismayed’ by the findings and apologised to patients for the lapse in standards which gave rise to the CQC’s damning report.

But he moved to reassure patients, saying it was just a snapshot of patients’ experience. He said, “I would like to apologise to our patients and the public that the identified areas of care have fallen below the expected standard.

“Most of our patients tell us that they get good care in our hospitals, but I cannot condone anything other than the highest standards of care and compassion for our patients.”

He added that in-house and CQC surveys showed more than 90 per cent of patients were satisfied with their care.

“Show me the private business that delivers those standards of care,” he said.

Mrs Boyce said although she recognised steps were being made to address the ‘major concerns’, she warned the CQC still held the right to restrict or even close services if the health regulators believe it is necessary.

Health campaigners welcomed the report, but said they were unsurprised by the findings. Chair of Save the DGH Campaign Liz Walke blamed the catalogue of errors on poor staffing levels at the DGH.

She said, “Sadly we are not surprised. When the hospital is so short-staffed it is unsurprising when they are rushed off their feet that they forget to shut a curtain or worse – not excusable but unsurprising.

“The fact that staff don’t notice a man without underclothes in a chair shows how bad things have got.

“I am sure that any visitor passing would have noticed. The fact that when you are being inspected even then staff didn’t notice or act very quickly speaks volumes.”

Mrs Walke added, “We have been told that improvements have been made since the CQC inspection and we hope this is the case. We would urge patients and carers to highlight any problems they have had with their care and that is the way things will improve.”

When the CQC reported its concerns about A&E, maternity units and other wards in February, hospital managers said they took immediate action to address the issues raised.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said, “I have been in close contact with the hospital management since the original inspection and I’m glad to see the report notes that the hospital is already acting on the recommendations.

“However, I will continue to monitor the progress very, very closely.

“It is clear there has been a lack of leadership at the DGH going back many years. Eastbourne deserves better from the board of the Trust, hospital staff deserve better from their managers and the Trust must now prove they can turn around our much-loved local hospital, quickly.”

The CQC’s Mrs Boyce said while progress had been made, there was still a lot of work to be done and the CQC would continue to monitor the Trust closely.