Too few staff and a lack of facilities are among the problems facing the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) praised medics, saying: “Staff treated patients with compassion, dignity and respect while providing good clinical care.”
But the flow of patients through the hospital was poor, leading to bottlenecks in A&E and patients having to wait in ambulances too long on arriving there.
And more must be done to protect patients and ensure that the most seriously injured are treated quickly enough.
The CQC said: The deputy chief inspector of hospitals has told Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust that it must make significant improvements to the way it provides healthcare to patients who use the Emergency Department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital at Brighton.
“The Care Quality Commission has raised concerns to the trust about the flow of patients through the Emergency Department and whether care was being provided soon enough.
“Concerns were also raised about patients who arrive into the hospital and wait too long in the ambulance cohort area before moving into the main department.
“Following an inspection on (Monday) 22 June, two aspects of urgent and emergency services have been rated as inadequate.
“A full report from the inspection is available on the CQC website.
“Inspectors observed that the Emergency Department did not always have the staff or facilities to ensure the safe accommodation of patients in the Emergency Department.
“However, (the) CQC found that staff treated patients with compassion, dignity and respect while providing good clinical care once they were being treated.
“At times inspectors found patient safety was compromised because treatment did not always progress quickly enough and there not always enough nurses on duty with the right skills over each 24-hour period to care for patients safely.
“Patient flow from the Emergency Department into hospital beds was poor, with many patients waiting to be admitted to wards.
“This meant a delay in patients being cared for in the most appropriate place for their particular health need.
“This resulted in overcrowding in the Emergency Department and meant that the privacy and dignity of patients was not consistently met despite the best efforts of staff.
“While the department had cleaning staff, high patient turnover meant that cubicles were not consistently cleaned and checked between patients.”
Deputy chief inspector of hospitals Edward Baker said: “I am concerned that Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has not taken all the steps it should to put right failings noted on our previous inspections and that some patients coming in to the urgent and emergency services departments continue to experience a poor level of care and treatment.”
Professor Baker said: “Despite the best efforts of staff the flow from the Emergency Department into the hospital was not being managed well and this affects the care patients received and staff morale.
“While there is evidence that the new management is committed to delivering necessary changes in the department and the inpatient wards, I do not feel the board has done enough to address these issues and the board agrees that more must be done to protect patients.”