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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

CQC find examples of ‘Outstanding’ work at Arrowe Park in Medical Care and Urgent and Emergency Care Services as ratings improve

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection at Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust found some outstanding practice in Medical Care at Arrowe Park Hospital.

The unannounced visit by inspectors was carried out on 19th and 20th October last year, focusing purely on Medical Care and Urgent and Emergency Care Services at the Trust’s Arrowe Park Hospital and a report following the inspection has been released.

In this recent visit, Inspectors found that in regards to Medical Care, there was also some “outstanding” practise. This included an ambulatory heart failure service for day case patients and community referrals to try to prevent admissions, as well as a virtual COVID-19 ward to support patients at home.

Medical Care as a service had improved overall and it was rated as ‘Good’ in 4 of the 5 domains that CQC inspect. The Service managed and controlled infection risk well and learned lessons from them. The CQC noted that staff provided good care and treatment and that managers monitored effectiveness of the service to make sure staff were competent.

The report highlights that staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity and took account of their individual needs. It was found the leaders ran the services well, using reliable information systems and supported staff to develop their skills. It was also highlighted that staff felt respected, supported and valued and that they were focused on the needs of the patients receiving care and they engaged well with patients.

The service also performed in the top 25% of trusts for cancer waiting times. In September 2021, the Trust saw 96% of patients within 2 weeks of an urgent GP referral.

Urgent and Emergency Care Services were also inspected and remained at the same rating as “requires improvement”. Inspectors highlighted that patients did not always receive timely treatment and some, especially those awaiting transfer to specialist mental health services with other providers, had a long wait within the department for admission to hospital. As with many other Trusts nationally, the Emergency Department has faced increased levels of attendances throughout the year, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspectors also highlighted design, maintenance and use of facilities did not always keep people safe. Investment is being made to transform urgent care at Arrowe Park Hospital. The Trust recently unveiled plans for a new £28 million urgent and emergency care facility to be built at Arrowe Park. The scheme will transform urgent care in Wirral and will include a complete redevelopment of the current A&E at Arrowe Park Hospital, run by Wirral University Teaching Hospital and the Urgent Treatment Centre, which is currently based next door on the same site, run by Wirral Community Health and Care Trust (WCHC).

Dr Nikki Stevenson, Deputy Chief Executive and Medical Director at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said: “We thank the Care Quality Commission for their inspection so we can continue to make improvements and it’s very useful to have an external perspective on our services. It is great to see the CQC recognise the improvements already made in Medical Care and that they found there were some examples of ‘outstanding’ practises.

“As with other Trusts, our Urgent and Emergency Care Services have faced very high levels of attendances over the past year, which has also affected our ability to reach pre-pandemic targets on waiting times. However, we recognise the needs of our communities and are therefore investing in a development that will transform urgent care in Wirral. This will offer a state-of-the-art facility for the people of the Wirral and a much better experience. The work is due to start this year and we are really excited about those plans.

“We also recognise that our amazing staff have gone above and beyond in managing the huge challenges of the pandemic, whilst continuing to provide planned care and urgent services. We take on board the need to sustain our efforts to listen to our staff.”

As this inspection was a focussed on the Medical Care and Urgent and Emergency Services, the result does not change the current CQC overall Trust rating for the three hospitals in Wirral University Hospital Teaching Trust, which is ‘Requires Improvement’. The Trust’s overall rating was compiled from CQC visits in May 2018, October and November 2019 and a final report in March 2020. Since then, the Trust has been implementing an action plan of improvements and has successfully bid for capital investment in facilities to improve staff and patient experience.

To view the CQC inspection report visit the CQC website.