Aintree Hospital patients at ‘risk of harm’ due to lack of nursing staff

The hospital was the subject of a surprise inspection in October and was found to be lacking in a number of areas.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said University Hospital Aintree patients were exposed to ‘risk of harm’ after a surprise inspection of the urgent and emergency care department.

The CQC carried out the unannounced review in October 2022, after receiving information of concern about the safety and quality of the service.

One of the issues highlighted was a lack of nursing staff and support staff to keep patients safe from avoidable harm.

The inspection found:

  • The emergency department exceeded its maximum planned capacity and up to 19 patients were cared for on the corridor.
  • Patients did not always receive appropriate care and treatment in a timely way, exposing them to the risk of harm.
  • People could not always access the service when they needed it and did not always receive the right care promptly.
  • The service did not always have enough nursing staff and support staff to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment.
  • Staff did not always respect patient’s privacy and dignity and did not always keep care confidential.

However:

  • The service had enough medical staff to match the planned numbers.
  • Staff gave patients enough food and drink to meet their needs and improve their health in all areas of the emergency department except for the waiting room.
  • Staff assessed and monitored patients regularly to see if they were in pain and gave pain relief in a timely way.
  • Staff treated patients with compassion and kindness and took account of their individual needs.

The hospital was not rated at the inspection in October, and has retained its ‘requires improvement’ rating. The emergency department retained its ‘inadequate’ rating.

What has been said?

David Melia, Chief Nurse at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Aintree University Hospital said: “We accept the findings in the report and are committed to learning and improving. I would like to thank our incredibly hard working staff who the CQC said ‘treated patients with compassion and kindness’.

“The CQC found that, like every other emergency department in the country, there are too many people waiting in the department, and they recognised the challenges we face in admitting these patients to hospital beds, due to being unable to discharge patients who no longer need a hospital bed, but are waiting on social care or community support.

“Our priority is to provide safe, high quality care in a timely manner. Though health and care services are incredibly challenged, we are working to address the pressures we’re facing. We’re recruiting nursing staff, we’ve taken further action to provide timely access to treatment, we’ve introduced more measures to monitor patients in the waiting room and we’re working with local partners to support patients leaving the hospital with support in the community.”