A&E unit at Northwick Park Hospital criticised for staff shortages

Northwick Park Hospital

Northwick Park Hospital - Credit: Getty Images

An A&E unit which will see a surge in patients from next month, has been criticised for staff shortages by England’s chief inspector of hospitals.

Northwick Park Hospital has been told its casualty department requires improvement following an inspection by Prof Sir Mike Richards, of the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The department is set to see an increase in patients when the A&E department at Central Middlesex Hospital (CMH) closes on September 10.

Last year, North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages NPH, CMH and St Mark’s Hospital, met its A&E waiting times targets on just two weeks.

The full CQC report into the trust revealed that inspectors found staff shortages were having an impact on care in some parts of the trust.

Following the inspection, CQC has ordered the trust to make a number of improvements, including making sure there are enough staff and systems are in place to assess and monitor the quality of the service provided in A&E.

Prof Richards said: “When we inspected the hospitals we saw that while staff were caring and compassionate, staff shortages made it difficult for them to meet people’s individual needs.”

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Last month, David McVittie, the trust’s chief executive, admitted the A&E closure could create problems but pledged that a £21million cash injection into NPH’s casualty unit, which includes 68 extra beds, will allow them to cope with the extra pressure.

Grave concerns

However Sarah Cox, a health campaigner in Brent, fears the hospital may struggle.

She told the Times: “With only a few weeks to go before the A&E closure, this report raises grave concerns.

“The trust recently assured the community that it will be ready to take on the extra patients when the A&E closes – really?”

Stonebridge’s Labour councillor Zaffa Van-Kawala added: “Local residents will be extremely concerned to discover that our hospitals face staff shortages and are struggling to deliver critical services in A&E.

“The trust must implement the CQC recommendations immediately and stop putting people’s lives at risk.”

The trusts’ stroke unit and Starrs (short-term assessment, rehabilitation and reablement) service were praised by the inspectors, with CMH being rated overall as good.

Mr McVittie said: “The report from the CQC presents a fair reflection of the trust. It identifies where improvements are required and also recognises areas of good performance and outstanding practice. Importantly, the report confirms the care, commitment and compassion of our staff.

“The work, to improve our services has already started. Some changes will happen fairly quickly others will take longer to bring about.

“A report, detailing our response to the CQC’s findings, will go to the Trust Board in October.”

The full report is available at cqc.org.uk/provider/RV8.