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DCH chief responds to CQC findings
10:27am Friday 11th October 2013 in News
DORSET County Hospital has failed to store medicines correctly, an inspection has found.
The hospital has been issued a warning notice requiring it to take action because it is not meeting six national standards.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) first issued a formal warning to the hospital to make improvements in three areas after an unannounced inspection last November.
A further inspection took place in June and July this year.
Inspectors found that whilst some improvements had been made, the hospital was not meeting six national standards.
CQC has issued a warning notice to the trust requiring it to take action to ensure that medicines requiring refrigeration are stored safely and are safe to use.
The hospital has said the warning notice is redundant because it has made the required improvements and the CQC report has been labelled ‘alarmist’ by a patient governor.
But Adrian Hughes, regional director of CQC in the south, said: “Last year we identified some specific concerns with the management of medicines, and in response Dorset County Hospital produced a plan showing how it would improve.
“It was concerning that when we inspected in the summer, the trust was still failing to store medicines as required. “On a number of wards, the records showed that refrigerators had been above or below the safe temperatures for storing medicines.
“It was not clear who had been checking that the medicines would be safe to use.
“Following our latest inspection, the trust has now assured us that It will in future use an electronic monitoring system which will alert the staff if temperatures move outside the normal range, and provide a more robust system for safe cold storage of medicines.
“We will return unannounced in the near future to check that the new system is working as it should and that medicines are being stored at the correct temperatures.”
The inspection also found that action is needed in the care and welfare of people who use the services, staffing, supporting workers, assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision and records.
Hospital chief executive Jean O’Callaghan called the report ‘disheartening’ but moved to reassure patients that no one had been harmed as a result of the cold storage of medicines.
Patient governor Derek Julian said the report was ‘nit-picking’ and ‘alarmist’ and will lower the morale of the staff.
He added: “I think the CQC is alarmist and this report is unfair to the hospital, which is one of the best in the country.
“We must never be complacent and of course we must listen to any fair concerns, but I think there is a political element to this that must be highlighted.
“The CQC receive so much criticism, I think part of this is justifying their highly paid jobs.
“Whilst it is right to listen to criticisms and concerns, patients should not be alarmed because Dorset Hospital is a good hospital.”
The hospital has until October 16 to send the CQC an action plan of how it will meet the standards.
The report comes in the same week as little Joshua Hurd was guaranteed a massive NHS payout after he suffered a brain haemorrhage in his mother’s womb at Dorset County Hospital which left him in a wheelchair.
DCH CHIEF executive Jean O’Callaghan said: “The CQC recommended we improve the system we use to monitor the temperature of medicine fridges on wards following an inspection in the summer.
"They also noted that one cupboard where IV fluids were kept should have a lock.
“The inspection concluded on July 2, following which we received feedback about their concerns. We took immediate action to address the issues and have installed a state-of-the-art system which monitors fridge temperatures using wi-fi.
"We have also installed a lock on the cupboard.
“We received the warning notice about these same issues on October 1, by which time the notice was redundant as the work had been completed.
“We would like to assure patients that there has been no harm caused to patients at Dorset County Hospital as a result of cold storage of medicines.
"We already had alarms fitted to fridges to alert us to any fluctuations in temperature, but this was not recorded to required standards.
"The CQC standards make no distinction between issues which have caused harm and issues which have the potential to cause harm.
“We hope that the publication of the notice now doesn’t cause patients any anxiety as all the recommended actions were completed some time ago.”
Mrs O’Callaghan added: “Obviously we are disheartened by the negative aspects of the CQC report.
"But we are pleased that inspectors were given such positive feedback from our patients who reported that staff were responsive and caring, that they felt safe and there was good quality care.
“Patients spoke highly about the food they were offered and call bells were answered in a timely way.
“It was very surprising that compliance with the essential standards appears to have deteriorated since the last CQC inspection in November.
“The report identifies potential risks to patients where systems or documentation are not robust enough to ensure prevention of harm. Documentation is an area of weakness we will focus on.
“Staff reported feeling well supported despite recognised pressures. The findings of the report don’t reflect the progress the hospital has made due to the continuing efforts and commitment of our hard working staff.
“Our action plan will address the points raised, most of which can be remedied quickly.
"The hospital has been recognised nationally for the quality of its care and recent Friends and Family Test results show a high degree of satisfaction and assurance that most of what we do is right.”
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