Sanctions imposed on hospital where patients were fed microwave meals and had to wash in cardboard bowls
Inspectors found there was no night lighting on the wards so bright lights were switched on when needed, disturbing sleep of other patientsNo bedside storage so patients belongings were left on the floorCQC has imposed restriction on Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to stop it treating long-term patients on day unit for more than 23 hoursTrust interim chief said they accepted facilities were not 'entirely suitable'

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UPDATED:

15:18 GMT, 21 September 2012

Health regulators today imposed sanctions on a hospital which was keeping patients on a day ward for more than four days and only feeding them with sandwiches and microwave dinners.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) imposed a legal restriction on Pinderfields Hospital, near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, after it found that a day unit was being used for longer term care without the adequate resources.

Patients did not have proper washing facilities and were cleaning themselves using disposable cardboard bowls and there were no proper catering facilities, the CQC found after an unannounced inspection.

Pindersfields General Hospital: Legal restriction to stop it from keeping patients in the day unit for more than 23 hours

Pindersfields General Hospital: Legal restriction to stop it from keeping patients in the surgical day unit for more than 23 hours

The CQC said it has imposed an urgent legal restriction on Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, preventing it from treating patients in the surgical unit for more than 23 hours.

The CQC said inspectors also found there was no night lighting on the ward so every time a patient was admitted after dark – a frequent occurrence – bright lights were switched on, disturbing the sleep of the other patients.

Patients had no bedside storage so their belongings were left on the floor, a spokesman said.

The inspectors also raised concerns about an adjacent theatre area which did not have restricted access.

When inspectors visited the hospital earlier this month they discovered that between July and August “a number” of patients had been on the unit for more than 24 hours and in some cases for more than four days.

Malcolm Bower-Brown, deputy director of CQC in the north, said: 'The failings we witnessed on this unit at Pinderfields Hospital were completely unacceptable. CQC took swift action following our inspection to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients.

'The decision to place an urgent condition on a provider’s registration is not one we take lightly. However, when we find poor practice, as we did in this case, we will take immediate action to ensure patients are not at risk.

Sub sandwich

cardboard bowl

Patients on the day unit did not receive freshly cooked meals for days and washed in disposable bowls

'We are heartened by the Trust’s
rapid and positive response to our action and they are working closely
in partnership with other agencies to address the issues of concern.

'However
we will continue to monitor the position closely and, if necessary,
will not hesitate to take further action to ensure patients receive the
service they are entitled to expect.'

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said that between mid July and the end of August, 30 patients stayed in the day ward for more than 23 hours. It said it has already taken action to remedy the CQC’s concerns.

Patients on the ward now have access to the same food as any other ward in the hospital, a spokesman said.

Stephen Eames, interim chief executive of the trust, said: 'We do accept that the facilities and environment on this unit were not entirely suitable for inpatients'

Stephen Eames, interim chief executive of the trust, said: 'We do accept that the facilities and environment on this unit were not entirely suitable for inpatients'

Bedside lockers and lights have been installed and workers now need a swipe card to access the theatre.

A spokesman from the hospital said that it also plans to make improvements to the washing facilities.

Stephen Eames, interim chief executive of the trust, said: 'We would like to apologise to any patient whose experience on the day surgical unit may have fallen below the high standards we would expect.

'To our knowledge no patients have come to harm as a result of an inpatient stay on this unit. We do accept that the facilities and environment on this unit were not entirely suitable for inpatients and we are in the process of making significant improvements so it can be used for short stays.

'The concerns raised by the CQC relate to the facilities and physical environment of the unit for patients spending more than 23 hours there.

'They do not relate to the levels of staffing on the unit or the quality of care given by our staff which patients told the CQC was very good.

'We have not been routinely using the day surgical unit for inpatient stays over 23 hours. This happens as part of an escalation policy which enables us to find extra capacity in the hospital for low risk inpatients in times of high demand.

'This escalation policy is in place because there is a serious knock-on effect of not managing demand for beds properly. The last thing we want is patients waiting on trolleys in accident and emergency or in ambulances and this is what the escalation policy seeks to avoid.'