Staff at Devon hospital ‘labelled negatively’ for raising concerns about staff shortages
Inspectors warned nurses at North Devon District Hospital were left confused over which doctors were responsible for which patients because of the way they were allocated beds.
A new report by the Care Quality Commission downgraded medical care at the hospital from good to requires improvement.
According to the report the wards at the hospital were short of doctors and nurses which was impacting on patient safety.
The CQC report said: “We were told in several cases, doctors did not answer when they had been paged. In one case, staff had to contact the intensive care unit to ask one of their doctors to urgently review the patient. This created unnecessary delays.”
Inspectors cites examples including one patient who was having chest pains and another struggling to breathe, both waited for over an hour for a doctor to come and review and treat them.
The report found patients with specific needs were put onto wards which could not treat their specific condition.
It said: “They told us sometimes doctors would not know if a patient was on their list. In one case, staff told us they had to ask a doctor to verify their list to confirm if they had responsibility for the patient.”
On the shortages of nurses the CQC said the trust did not use a tool to assess the acuity, or severity, of patients and how many nurses were needed. While staffing has increased the CQC said there were still not enough.
The hospital has been struggling to recruit doctors since 2019 and was instead relying on locum, or temporary doctors including six-long term doctors but it did not have good enough supervision.
The shortage of consultants meant junior doctors were being used to cover gaps rather than where they needed to be for their training meaning some could miss key milestones.
Cath Campbell, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said the problems were putting patients at risk.
她补充说: “It was also very concerning to hear a few staff were labelled negatively by their managers for reporting too many incidents. This was preventing other staff from coming forward to report incidents, especially in relation to being short staffed. Staff told us they were sometimes too busy to report incidents and felt little was done about them anyway.
“We have told the trust it must address the medical staffing issues as a priority, and it has assured us it is working hard to do so. As well as recruiting new staff, it has been working with another neighbouring trust to support care provision at the hospital.
“We have also told the trust to ensure the service responds appropriately and quickly when patients are deteriorating, and that staff are encouraged to report all incidents, including near misses. We will keep a close eye on progress and will return to ensure the required improvements are made.”
Suzanne Tracey, chief executive officer for the trust said: “We are not surprised by the CQC’s findings. We have fantastic, caring and compassionate teams in Northern Devon and clear strengths in the acute medicine service, 但 [the hospital] is undoubtedly in a very challenging position when it comes to recruiting medical staff to fill our vacancies.”
She said the trust had now linked with the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust for support adding that this would help meet rising demand.