THE health trust in charge of Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) has been told it must improve following a review.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found shortfalls in the way the trust manages safety, effectiveness and responsiveness at its hospitals, which also include the North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke and Andover War Memorial Hospital.

Now the CQC, following its inspections of the three hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) hospitals in June and July, is using its ‘urgent enforcement powers’ to impose conditions on the trust. They include putting in place an effective system to monitor treatment of patients in the emergency department, and ensuring there are enough suitably qualified staff on duty to meet demand.

Inspectors found that not all areas were effectively managing infection risks and patients’ privacy and dignity was not always protected.

During the inspection there were patients being treated on corridors without access to a patient call bell and found it difficult to get help from the nursing staff.

The CQC also found that the board was not always aware of the issues, and managers were not always seen to take action to address behaviour and performance problems.

Winchester MP Steve Brine, who is also the government’s public health minister, met with the trust’s chief executive.He said: “This CQC report is worrying, but I don’t think it comes as a huge surprise because of the pressures our emergency department has been under. What we must not do in response is sensationalise the findings or join the dots in a way that draws the wrong conclusions.”

Although the trust has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ overall, inspectors found that ‘caring’ at the trust was ‘good’.

Alex Whitfield, HHFT chief executive, said: “I am glad that the inspectors recognised the dedication and compassion of our staff.“However, it is disappointing that there are a number of areas where our services are not consistently at the standard we would want. We take the safety of our patients and their care very seriously and we have already made changes responding to the conditions highlighted by the inspectors and have further improvements planned.”

The report also highlighted a number of areas of excellent practice including the trust’s dementia services and world-class cancer services. The trust retains the rating of ‘outstanding’ for end-of-life care from its previous inspection.