Watchdog imposes conditions on Liverpool hospitals after A&E performance raises alarm

By Jonathan Humphries

The healthcare watchdog has imposed conditions on Liverpool's major emergency hospitals after A&E performance raised alarms.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted a snap inspection at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and Aintree Hospital, both run by Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT), in July focusing on the emergency departments and surgical wards.

The inspection report is yet to be published, but concerns about how quickly patients were being assessed in A&E, the management of risk and the delivery of safe care have led to immediate action.

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CQC bosses imposed conditions under Section 31 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, meaning LUHFT must provide weekly updates on how managers are addressing the problems.

According to a report to Liverpool NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), published yesterday: "The conditions broadly relate to the Emergency Department and the provision of safe care and treatment, the management of risk and effective senior management oversight in the Department, medical and surgical in-reach to the Department, ICE (online) referrals, improving initial triage so that service users receive timely and appropriate care and treatment and proactive management of patient flow in the Department.

"The Trust will be subject to weekly monitoring of the action plan to address this by the CQC."

An internal email from Trust management to staff, leaked to the BBC, also stated: "This means we will be required to provide monthly progress updates to the CQC to demonstrate how we are meeting the requirements around time to triage, waiting times in the department, and timely access to a clinician."

The email stated that the CQC "identified patient safety concerns within our emergency departments due to the management of the impact of overcrowding and delays...

"Specifically, they are concerned about our ability to assess patients quickly, to keep patients safe during long waits and to protect patients from the risk of transmission of infection".

The trust is undergoing a period of transition after chief executive Steve Warburton announced he would be resigning last week.

Mr Warburton was previously chief executive of Aintree Hospital when it merged with the Royal Liverpool Hospital in 2018, when he stepped up to run the newly created LUHFT.

Announcing his departure, he said: "After considerable thought and personal reflection, acknowledging there is never an ideal time for these decisions, now feels like the right point for this change to happen for me personally and for the Trust.

"Therefore, the time has now come for me to pursue a different challenge within the NHS, including finding a better balance between my work commitments and my family life."

The trust has since announced experienced hospital manager Sir David Dalton will take up the role of interim chief executive for the next six months.

A spokesman for LUHFT said the trust would not comment on the CQC inspection until the publication of its final report, expected to be later this year.

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