The trust which runs St Helier Hospital’s accident and emergency department is still rated “requires improvement”, following a return inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
The CQC rated Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust as “Good” overall following an inspection in May, up from a previous inspection’s “requires improvement”.
Inspectors found that although there was progress in most areas, the emergency departments at both Epsom General and St Helier in Sutton remained as “requires improvement”.
Deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Dr Nigel Acheson, said there were examples of outstanding practice in the trust’s maternity service. “I was particularly impressed with the standard of maternity care at the trust, which had received a prestigious award,” he said.
However, inspectors were critical of the old and unsuitable buildings, and said that four areas needed urgent attention:
- Ensuring there are suitable, safe environments for children and young people presenting with mental ill health to be assessed in the emergency department;
- Ensuring there are systems for identifying risks to children and young people in the emergency department at St Helier Hospital;
- Adequate staffing across surgical units at St Helier Hospital to provide safe delivery of care to patients;
- Better management of medicines.
The inspection report comes at a time when there is mounting speculation that the health department, together with the local authority, are considering closures of maternity and A&E departments at St Helier, as part of a major land sale deal.
In a statement responding to the CQC inspectors’ report, the trust’s chief exec, Daniel Elkeles, said: “We recognise that there are some areas that need further development, and we would like to assure our patients and local communities that we are already working on that, and in fact, have already made some of the suggested improvements.
“That said, this is a very positive inspection report and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 6,000 staff of Epsom and St Helier for working so hard, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week – you are all my heroes.”
Meanwhile, the Keep Our St Helier Hospital campaign is staging two public meetings to discuss the threats to the hospital, which if closed would undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on NHS hospital provision in Croydon and elsewhere in south London.
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