THE Care Quality Commission (CQC) has launched an investigation into emergency care services by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
An inspection of accident and emergency services in December revealed similar concerns about trust systems and processes to those found in an inspection of maternity services in July, which resulted in CQC serving a warning notice on the trust.
These included doubts about the ability of the trust, which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Morecambe’s Queen Victoria Hospital, to proactively identify and mitigate risk.
Debbie Westhead, CQC North West Regional Lead said: “This investigation will allow us to take an in-depth look at the care patients receive as they enter the hospitals for emergency care and at what happens to them subsequently.
“It aims to help the trust make sure it is providing sustainable good quality care. It should reassure local people that we are aware of problems in the trust and seeking more information to help the trust take the correct action to mitigate risks to patients.
“I’d also like to stress that local people should continue to use accident and emergency services if they need to. If we felt there were immediate threats to the safety of patients, we would take immediate action.”
Tony Halsall, chief executive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are committed to providing the best possible patient care in our hospitals and we will work openly with the CQC to help them carry out their investigation and implement any actions they identify.
“The Trust is dealing with a number of important issues at the moment, so it is not surprising that we are coming under additional scrutiny. We hope this investigation will help to reassure anyone with concerns about emergency services in our hospitals.
“We are concerned that we have had to deal with a number of issues recently but everyone in the Trust has been working hard to ensure they are resolved as quickly as possible.
“We know that the vast majority of our patients receive good care and the CQC has made it clear that they do not think that any of our services are unsafe. However, I would like to sincerely apologise to those patients who have been affected by any of the issues we have faced.
“Our focus is on dealing with any shortcomings or weaknesses that exist whilst also making further improvements to our services to ensure that we provide safe, high quality care for all our patients not just now but in the longer term.”