Ipswich: Chief executive Andrew Reed answers ten questions over damning Care Quality Commission report into care of the elderly at Ipswich Hospital

IPSWICH: Under-fire hospital chief Andrew Reed today responded to ten questions put to him by The Evening Star – and he accepted there had been “serious lapses in basic care”.

His frank admissions come in the wake of a stinging report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into treatment of elderly patients at the Heath Road site.

Mr Reed said the CQC’s fidings had highlighted big concerns that staff were already working to address.

The report, titled Dignity and Nutrition for Older People, identified the trust as one of three failing hospitals out of 12 inspected by the CQC and revealed major shortcomings in several areas.

It included a string of shocking findings such as patients being left in their night clothes all day, being washed at their beds rather than taken to a bathroom and staff not washing their hands enough.

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Following the report, we e-mailed Mr Reed ten questions which he has now answered.

When asked whether cost-cutting was a factor behind the lapses, he said: “No, we accept there were serious lapses in basic care.”

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Mr Reed added that a number of steps had already been taken to end the difficulties identified by the CQC.

He said: “We have a comprehensive action plan in place, including eliminating the routine use of incontinence pads and ensuring patients have help with both feeding and drinking.

“We’ve also ensured that call bells are within reach and that nurses actively and frequently check the needs of patients with dementia.

“All of this involves working much more closely with families and carers.”

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover, who posed the questions, thanked Mr Reed for his candour.

But he said: “We at the Evening Star will be watching even more closely that the Care Quality Commission.

“We want to ensure these improvements are brought in within hours, not weeks, months or years.”

Q: Which managers were responsible for the levels of care in the wards named by the CQC and is any disciplinary action underway as a result?

A: The wards in question are covered by our general medical business unit. Changes have been made at senior management, clinical management and ward level in recent months and we are confident that the new team is both capable and determined to address the problems identified.

Q: Which member of the senior management team was responsible for the care of elderly patients and is any action under way as a result?

A: Responsibilites fall under the remit of the director of nursing and the director of operations. Both are recent appointees and both have demonstrated substantial improvements such as reductions in infection control, falls and pressure sores.

Q: What steps have you put in place to end the difficulties identified by the CQC?

A: We have a comprehensive action plan in place, including eliminating the routine use of incontinence pads, ensuring patients have help with both feeding and drinking, ensuring call bells are within reach and ensuring that nurses actively and frequently check the needs of patients with dementia. All of this involves working much more closely with families and carers.

Q: Was cost-cutting any reason for the serious lapses?

A: No. We accept that they were serious lapses of basic care.

Q: Has the hospital and its senior team been distracted by the ongoing and seemingly long-winded and resource-sapping bid for Foundation Trust Status?

A: No – the foundation trust application is being managed principally by a team dedicated to the purpose alongside our finance team.

Q: Will you be referring the difficulties discovered by the CQC to Monitor, the watchdog deciding on Foundation Trust Status?

A: We have already done so, and expect a decision on our application to be made only when we have satisfied the requirements of the CQC.

Q: Do you know of any other area of the hospital, wards, or clinics, or day care areas, where old people have to suffer indignity during their care? If so, where are they and what are you doing about it?

A: We have avoided the assumption that the problems identified are confined only to the two wards visited – our remedial actions will apply to all areas.

Q: Have you thought about appointing an Ipswich Hospital Tsar, reporting directly to you, to speak for the elderly patients who might not be able to speak for themselves? If not, why not. If yes, what is the next step?

A: We have a user group for older peoples services in place and we will be asking them to take up this role.

Q: Will you set up a special inquiry in to what was revealed in the CQC report?

A: We are treating this as a formal serious incident, and have also involved both the PCT and the strategic health authority in checking that our investigations are at the appropriate level.

Q: Will you launch inquiries in to all of the complaints which have emerged in recent hours – to check is any of the issues are still happening?

A: We will review every case, and respond directly to everyone who asks us to undertake a complaint inquiry.

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