Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has been told it requires improvement by the Care Quality Commission.
Inspectors found that overall the trust was providing services that were effective and caring, but “required improvement” in order to provide services that are safe, responsive and well-led
Patients who did not arrive in the emergency department by ambulance were not always assessed as soon as they arrived, the inspectors found during their visit in June.
In addition, some patients were mistakenly sent to the urgent care centre after an initial assessment.
In the trust’s community service, there were not enough speech and language therapy staff to meet the high number of referrals.
Stroke patients were not always seen within two days of discharge from hospital.
“Vacancies across all staff groups remained an ongoing issue, resulting in the regular use of locum and bank and agency staff to maintain safe staffing levels”
The trust had fewer reported incidents than other trusts the same size and “some incidents may not have been reported”, the inspectors concluded in their report published yesterday.
The emergency department was rated as “good” with staff demonstrating a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients and “respecting each other’s skills, experience and competencies” to work well together.
However, surgical services were “disjointed” and communication was “sometimes weak”.
The report said staff were “proud” of the care and services they provided for patients and to work for the hospital. They described the hospital as a “good place to work and as having an open culture”.
Meanwhile, the CQC said medicines were not always properly stored or handled safely.
A recent incident resulted in £500 worth of immunisation and other medicines being thrown away.
Trust chief executive John Goulston said: “The majority of the improvements are within our hands, such as increasing the number of staff who complete mandatory refresher training every year, and further strengthening our governance process throughout the trust.
“I am extremely proud that the CQC has recognised the considerable achievements of our dedicated and caring staff,” he said.
“Thanks to them we have made several leaps forward, but we know there are aspects of our services where we can, and must, do better.”
“I am extremely proud that the CQC has recognised the considerable achievements of our dedicated and caring staff”
Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said the trust had made “significant improvements” since a previous inspection in 2013, particularly in in developing both inpatient and community services to “meet the specific needs of the local population”.
He added: “Patients and families we spoke with told us they received compassionate care and were treated with dignity and respect.
“Despite this, the trust continues to face challenges in many other areas, including community services, surgery and critical care,” he said.
“Operations were sometimes cancelled, the day surgery department experienced difficulty in coping with the increased level of demand and patients were often delayed when being discharged from critical care,” said Sir Mike.
He added: “We were concerned that vacancies across all staff groups remained an ongoing issue, resulting in the regular use of locum and bank and agency staff to maintain safe staffing levels.
“However, we were encouraged to see that the trust is committed to ongoing recruitment of new staff.”