A health watchdog has ordered improvements at hospitals in Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract after a critical inspection report.
Experts were so concerned about staff shortages on a ward at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield when they visited this summer that they immediately raised their concerns.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now published its full report, rating Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust as “requiring improvement”.
It said safety was inadequate, and improvement was needed in the categories of effectiveness, responsiveness and being well-led. Care was rated as “good”.
The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, said: “We saw staff treating patients in a compassionate and sensitive way, and patients and relatives were generally content with the care they received. We also identified some outstanding practice particularly within the trust’s community services.
“However, I am very concerned that staff shortages in the trust’s acute hospitals are impacting on the safety and quality of patient care. The backlog of outpatient appointments is also a matter of significant concern, as is the length of time patients were waiting in accident and emergency to be handed over from the ambulance staff.
“While the trust has put systems and processes for improvement in place there is no doubt they have a considerable challenge and we need to see that the trust has taken our findings seriously and that they will make the necessary changes at pace.”
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals was the latest to be inspected under a new in-depth regime, with inspectors making two visits in July.
During the first, they had “significant concerns” about staff shortages and risk to patient safety on Gate 20, a medical ward, at Pinderfields. After raising this with the trust, six beds were closed.
However following the inspections, the CQC said they heard that issues remained and therefore asked for daily updates on staffing numbers.
Stephen Eames, chief executive of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals, said: “We welcome the CQC’s report and we recognise the challenges they have identified. We will be responding positively to those challenges but we are already making good progress on many of the issues identified.
“For example, we started taking action to address safe staffing levels in February this year and we have invested £1.2m in recruiting more qualified nurses across the Trust. Around 100 nurses have started working here since the CQC inspected us in July.”
He said patients could be confident about the quality of care but should be assured the report was being taken very seriously.