Hospital ordered to make 'significant improvements' after failing to comply with Covid rules

7 October 2020, 00:07

A view of the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent, which is part of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
A view of the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent, which is part of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: PA

A hospital has been ordered to make "significant improvements" after ward and emergency department staff were found failing to comply with Covid-19 rules.

Staff at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent, did not always wear PPE correctly in medical wards as well as on the Covid-19 ward, with a member of the nursing team also seen incorrectly wearing a mask on a ward which had seen an outbreak of the disease.

Inspectors found that staff did not always use alcohol hand gel on entering and leaving wards and at least seven members of staff were seen entering and leaving a ward caring for patients with suspected Covid-19 without washing their hands properly.

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The emergency department staff also did not always have access to hand gel or hand washing facilities, with hand sanitiser dispensers remaining empty at both entrances even after the inspectors had raised the issue.

The hospital, run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, was inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on August 11.

The inspectors ordered "urgent enforcement action" by requiring that the emergency department was risk-assessed for social distancing and coronavirus risks.

Staff did not always wear PPE correctly in the emergency department, including failing to remove it between clinical areas and patient bays, and they did not always use the correct PPE, the inspectors said.

They also highlighted that cleaning schedules were not kept up to date, meaning they were unsure that the wards had been cleaned properly.

And inspectors found there was an inconsistent approach to triaging patients with Covid-19 symptoms in the emergency department.

The inspectors said that not all rooms had signs to indicate how many people were permitted to be in that area while being able to socially distance, although managers told inspectors that every room should have these signs.

Five members of staff were seen in one room which was too small to enable social distancing, the report said.

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The CQC's chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker said: "It is extremely disappointing to find that despite being warned about their hygiene, not enough work had been carried out to address infection control issues within the trust. It is particularly concerning during a time when infection control could never have been more important.

"We had reviewed the work carried out by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust around infection prevention and control practices and issued a warning notice to them on August 3.

"However, the scale of the concerns were so great that we carried out a focused inspection on August 11.

"We used our enforcement powers by imposing conditions on the trust's registration, to ensure people are safe.

"We have assurance by our weekly engagement from the trust leadership that these issues are being addressed. We continue to monitor the trust closely.

"We will return to inspect it, to determine whether significant improvements have been made and embedded."

Dr Sara Mumford, interim director of infection prevention and control at the NHS trust, said: "This inspection took place two months ago and we took immediate action to make improvements.

"Since the inspection, we have retrained staff in the correct use of PPE and hand hygiene, put in place additional checks for cleaning, hand hygiene and PPE, reviewed and strengthened our policies and are making physical changes to the hospital to support social distancing.

"Staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to care for patients, and their care and safety remains our priority."