'Patient safety concerns' raised during A&E inspection prompts hospital-wide probe

Unannounced inspections were carried out at three Glasgow hospitals earlier this year.

‘Patient safety concerns’ raised during Glasgow A&E inspection prompting hospital-wide probe iStock

An unannounced inspection of a Glasgow A&E department uncovered “patient safety concerns” prompting a second hospital-wide investigation.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland carried out inspections at three NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde hospitals during the first week in April.

Their inspections looked at the quality of care being provided and any immediate improvements that had to be made.

An inspection of the emergency department at Glasgow Royal Infirmary identified “patient safety concerns” resulting in a second unannounced hospital-wide inspection being carried out between June 3 and 5.

At the Royal Alexandra Hospital, a number of patients were found to be being treated in trollies in the corridor due to an increase in patient numbers while at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, patients faced waits of up to 11 hours.

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital emergency department was described as “calm and well-led”.

On the morning of the inspection, the emergency department was operating under “significant pressure” with an 11 hour wait for patients to be transferred to inpatient areas and a two hour waiting time for first assessment by a clinician.

No patients were seen to be being cared for in the corridors or ambulances queuing outside and inspectors were told by staff that patients were being triaged within 15 minutes.

Areas for improvement were found to include hand hygiene compliance, the management of used linen and the safe storage of cleaning products.

At the Royal Alexandra Hospital, it was found that teams delivered “safe and effective care” in “calm and well-led” areas.

However, inspectors found some patients were being cared for on trollies in the corridor. They said the patients “appeared comfortable” and had not been in the department for an extended period of time.

Inspectors were told that patients who were in the department for a prolonged period would be transferred onto a hospital bed for comfort.

The trollies were found to not be obstructing fire exits and staff had completed fire safety training via an online module and were aware of fire evacuation plans.

Inspectors said: “Hospital safety huddles demonstrated open communication and we observed senior staff working collaboratively to mitigate risks.

“Patients were complimentary on the care they had received, and staff described the hospital as a good place to work.”

Areas for improvement identified include access to adequate cleaning materials and the establishment of assurance systems for cleaning and safe storage of medication.

Donna Maclean, chief inspector, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “We were assured that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had responded promptly to the patient safety concerns highlighted during the initial inspection at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

“A full report, including the findings from the initial emergency department inspection, will be published in August 2024.”

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “Following patient safety concerns being raised by HIS at the time of the ED inspection in April, a number of actions and improvements immediately took place assuring safe, quality care is in place and this remains our priority.

“A second visit was undertaken by HIS in early June and we look forward to receiving that report.”

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