A new inspection of Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals has rated their urgent and emergency care services as requiring improvement.
It found patients were sitting for up to 12 hours on waiting room chairs and that there were not always enough staff in the emergency department to keep patients safe or treat them on time.
The rating has gone down since the last inspection in 2019, when it was measured as good.
The report, which was published on Friday (June 24) added that compliance with life support training for staff did not always meet the trust target. And waiting times were not always in line with national standards.
Staff told inspectors they were worried about “the emergency department frequently being overcrowded and patients waiting long periods to access beds. Staff gave an example of where an elderly lady sat on a waiting room chair for 12 hours overnight due to lack of trolley spaces and beds.”
The report acknowledged that the emergency department was now too small to cope with the number of patients needing to be seen and that “significant crowding” had an impact on whether doctors could provide “clinical oversight” of all areas of the department.
The waiting room had only been designed for people to wait in for short periods.
Also, due to staff shortages, the report found that the emergency department “did not always have enough nursing and support staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment.”
Some patients gave up and went home before being treated, others did not receive “timely access” to treatment.
A spokesperson for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We welcome the CQC comments on urgent and emergency care services at CUH and across the wider health and care system in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The findings reflect our own analysis, and we continue to work with our partners to help address the challenges identified. This includes recruiting additional staff and building new wards to help meet the extremely high demand we’re facing for both emergency and planned care.”
The spokesperson added that currently the emergency department was under “significant pressure”, dealing with around 360 patients per day, which was a rise of 13 per cent compared with the same time last year.
To try to reduce pressure on the emergency department they were referring more patients to a same day emergency care area – including the Urgent Treatment Centre. In May, one in five (21.3 per cent) ED attendances were treated in these areas.