A Yorkshire hospitals trust has been served with a warning notice and told it must make urgent improvements after an unannounced inspection by the health watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited York Hospital in March after being alerted to “significant safety concerns” about the standard of care patients were receiving.
Inspectors found wards did not have enough staff to care for patients and that they “were unable to deliver fundamental standards of care within a timely way”.
One staff member told inspectors: “We have to choose, do we turn, check, and make sure all patients are not soiled, or do we fully wash ten? Some of these patients haven’t been washed for two to three days.”
Hospital chiefs said the report showed the “extreme pressures” it was facing.
Sarah Dronsfield, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said staff treated patients with “compassion and kindness” but that they “didn’t always respect their privacy and dignity or take account of their individual needs”.
She said: “Additionally, the service didn’t have enough nursing staff with the right skills, training and experience to keep patients safe and to provide the right care and treatment. It was disappointing that managers didn’t regularly review the situation and change the staffing arrangements to accommodate this.”
Staff did not always make sure patients had enough to eat and drink, which “could put people at serious risk of harm,” Ms Dronsfield added.
Inspectors also found that, although staff had training in key areas including safeguarding, they did not always make referrals when required and that staff did not always support patients to make informed decisions about their care and treatment.
Simon Morritt, the trust’s chief executive, said that many of the issues raised by the CQC were known to the trust and reflected the extreme pressures it was facing due to the demands of Covid and associated staff absence, and well documented recruitment challenges.
“The report demonstrates that, when faced with these pressures, it is not always possible to give the standard of care we would want for all of our patients all of the time,” he said.
“We know that there is a long journey towards sustaining improvements across the trust. Our focus remains on ensuring that all of our hospitals are fit to cope with the growing demand we are facing, and to provide safe, quality care for all of our patients.”
Chief nurse Heather McNair said: “We absolutely recognise the seriousness of the concerns raised by the CQC and since their visit there have been a number of actions taken, including an immediate inspection of every patient’s care on medical wards, including documentation and risk assessments.”
Ms McNair said the hospital held daily staffing meetings to identify which wards needed additional support.
“Like other NHS trusts, nurse recruitment continues to be a challenge and we are currently undertaking a nurse staffing establishment review to have a clear understanding of the enhanced required staffing levels on every ward to meet the current clinical demands,” she added.
The service was not rated after inspection and its rating has been suspended.
The overall rating for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust remains ‘requires improvement’, the CQC said.