Kent Hospital improves safety rating in latest inspection

Care Quality Commission, Kent, NHS, maternity safety

The William Harvey Hospital (PA)

A scandal-hit NHS trust has had its safety rating for medical care increased by the Care Quality Commission after an inspection found improvements.

The watchdog has now increased the safety rating for the William Harvey Hospital, in Kent, from inadequate to requires improvement.

The hospital, run by the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, was criticised by the CQC in October after staff and members of the public raised concerns about a lack of infection control amid outbreaks of Covid-19.

The East Kent trust has faced criticism over its standards of care in recent months and is separately facing an independent inquiry into poor maternity care after revelations by The Independent last year over dozens of baby deaths and brain injuries.

It could also face a police prosecution and was fined a total of £761,000 after being prosecuted by the CQC earlier this year over the death of baby Harry Richford in 2017.

Amanda Williams, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said: “I am pleased to report that since our last inspection, leaders have worked hard to improve infection control practices in the medical care services departments at both hospitals, although some improvements still need to be fully embedded, particularly at William Harvey Hospital.

“We also found that there was a positive culture in the service across both hospitals, and staff felt empowered to report incidents. These were fully investigated by managers and, importantly, learnings were shared with the wider team.”

But she warned inspectors did also have concerns that patient records were not always up to date including important risk assessments and whether patients were drinking enough.

She added: “This was despite being told by the coroner in July last year that fluid balance monitoring needed to improve to prevent future patient deaths. This was after fluid overload contributed to the death of a patient in the hospital.

“Across both hospitals, our inspectors found records relating to people’s fluid balances were consistently incomplete or not completed at all. It is important to check how much fluid patients take on and how much goes out, otherwise people could be at risk of dehydration or becoming overloaded with fluid.

“Trust leaders told us they would address our concerns as a matter of urgency, and we will continue to monitor their progress.”

In the latest report inspectors said there were enough nurses and support staff and staffing levels were regularly reviewed and adjusted.

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