The health sector regulator is taking further action to turn around what it describes as “one of the worst performing accident and emergency departments in the country”.
Monitor has ordered Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust to take a series of urgent steps, after it was judged to have failed to make improvements in services for its patients.
“This trust has had one of the worst performing A&E departments in the country”
Failing to see most A&E patients within the government’s four-hour target and ensuring that most have to wait less than 18 weeks for an operation are some of the complaints lodged against the trust.
Monitor’s regional director Adam Cayley warned: “This trust has had one of the worst performing A&E departments in the country. It has also failed to see other patients who have been referred for treatment quickly enough.
“It is unacceptable that patients have to wait. Monitor will not hesitate to step in and make changes to the leadership if the trust does not improve its services for its patients,” he said.
In order to improve patient care and how the trust is run, Monitor has called on it to implementing a credible plan to improve A&E services, develop a plan to improve the speed with which non-emergency patients receive treatment and to boost its clinical and management teams.
Monitor argues that keeping patients waiting too long for both emergency treatment and routine operations is symptom of wider problems with the way the trust is led.
They also said they were concerned about the stability of its executive team, which has had a very high turnover of members in the last two years.
Monitor has also asked the trust to review the effectiveness of its board to see if it is fit for purpose.
The trust has been working with Monitor to tackle the issues since being found to be in breach of its licence in December 2012.
Problems with meeting the A&E target at the end of the last financial year, meant the trust breached undertakings on its licence that the target would be met by the end of year, resulting in further conditions and requirements now being imposed.
“After inconsistent achievement of the A&E target, there is now some good news on our performance in this area”
Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust chair Alan Tobias insisted the organisation had started to turn around its emergency care performance.
He said: “We believe we are now in a much stronger position to tackle these issues and will be working hard to achieve all the undertakings and requirements we have set out with our regulator. I am under no illusion and want to assure our local community we must and will get this right.”
Mr Tobias added: “Whilst our recent Care Quality Commission inspection had no concern around the quality of care we provide our patients, we recognise that not meeting key performance targets means some of our patients are waiting longer that we would like and we have shown we are dedicated to changing that.
“After inconsistent achievement of the A&E target, there is now some good news on our performance in this area,” he said.
“We are reducing waiting and delays, seeing patients in more appropriate settings, and enabling people to go home more promptly as soon as they are fit enough to leave hospital. We want to maintain this progress and will work with Monitor to assure them of this.”