Health regulators today imposed sanctions on Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield which was keeping patients on a day ward for more than four days and only feeding them with sandwiches and microwave dinners.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) imposed a legal restriction on Pinderfields after it found that a day unit was being used for longer term care without the adequate resources.
Patients did not have proper washing facilities and were cleaning themselves using disposable cardboard bowls and there were no proper catering facilities, the CQC found after an unannounced inspection.
The CQC said it has imposed an urgent legal restriction on Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, preventing it from treating patients in the surgical unit for more than 23 hours.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said that between mid July and the end of August, 30 patients stayed in the day ward for more than 23 hours.
It said it has already taken action to remedy the CQC’s concerns.
Patients on the ward now have access to the same food as any other ward in the hospital, a spokesman said.
Bedside lockers and lights have been installed and workers now need a swipe card to access the theatre.
A spokesman from the hospital said that it also plans to make improvements to the washing facilities.
Stephen Eames, interim chief executive of the trust, said: “We would like to apologise to any patient whose experience on the day surgical unit may have fallen below the high standards we would expect.
“To our knowledge no patients have come to harm as a result of an inpatient stay on this unit. We do accept that the facilities and environment on this unit were not entirely suitable for inpatients and we are in the process of making significant improvements so it can be used for short stays.
“The concerns raised by the CQC relate to the facilities and physical environment of the unit for patients spending more than 23 hours there.
“They do not relate to the levels of staffing on the unit or the quality of care given by our staff which patients told the CQC was very good.
“We have not been routinely using the day surgical unit for inpatient stays over 23 hours. This happens as part of an escalation policy which enables us to find extra capacity in the hospital for low risk inpatients in times of high demand.
“This escalation policy is in place because there is a serious knock-on effect of not managing demand for beds properly. The last thing we want is patients waiting on trolleys in accident and emergency or in ambulances and this is what the escalation policy seeks to avoid.”