CHILDREN waiting for treatment at Basildon Hospital ’s A&E department have not been properly monitored to see if symptoms were deteriorating, according to a health watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission has released a report into a series of unannounced inspections at the hospital in June and July.
It comes a week after it announced it had ordered a string of improvements in the wake of the visits.
The report reveals concerns about observations of children in the department were raised last year – months before the death of a baby boy who was not assessed for 55 minutes – as revealed by the Echo last month.
All children should be assessed within 15 minutes. The commission’s report revealed there were three previous serious incidents relating to children which had to be investigated last year.
It said: “In some of the records we looked at, there was a lack of evidence of assessments being undertaken in a timely manner and poor monitoring of observations, which may highlight a patient was becoming unwell.”
The hospital refused to divulge further details of last year’s cases, but said they all went on to be successfully treated and investigations led to minor improvements in care.
The incidents led to an audit in February and March this year of the measures in place at the hospital to observe children for deterioration.
The hospital uses a “child early warning tool” score to record observations of a child’s condition once in the hospital.
The commission said a review of the hospital’s audit found 43 per cent of children were not given a score during triage, and 72 per cent did not get a score during each set of subsequent observations they received.
The watchdog looked at 44 children’s notes after the visits to the department between June 17 and 19, but found no “early warning” scores recorded for eight of them.
A hospital spokeswoman said: “In the eight cases referred to, there was no reference in the notes as to why the children’s early warning tool had not been used. “Not every child who attends A&E requires a full assessment. Sometimes they are attending for only a minor ailment. We accept that no documentation of why this wasn’t carried out constitutes a lack of evidence.
“Now every child who comes through A&E either has an early warning assessment or there is an explanation as to why it was not deemed necessary.”
She added that since the start of July more than 98 per cent of the 1,600 children who attended A&E had a full, detailed nursing assessment within 15 minutes, and the remaining two per cent had a rapid assessment within ten minutes.
MP assured situation will improve
MP Stephen Metcalfe has been assured things will improve at Basildon Hospital when new chief executive Clare Panniker takes over next month.
Mr Metcalfe, Tory MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock , said: “I have met the hospital’s chairman Ian Luder and they accepted more needs to be done. “They are confident the new leadership team will be able to start tackling these issues. “Over the next weeks and months we will see a series of initiatives to demonstrate how improvements will be made.”
Current chief executive Alan Whittle has come in for criticism during his time in charge over a series of problems. Mr Metcalfe did not directly criticise Mr Whittle, but said: “The fact we are going to get a new chief executive gives me hope and the hospital an opportunity for a fresh start.”