Dementia patients were left hungry for hours at scandal-hit NHS trust because staff were 'running about like headless chickens'
- The Ramsey Unit, in the grounds of Furness General Hospital, was closed to new admissions after the unannounced Care Quality Condition inspection
- Inspectors say they were 'shocked' by what they found at the unit
- Patients were offered little stimulation, were not given their medication at the right time and were left in bed long into the morning due to lack of staff
- The unit has now fully reopened with 25% more staff
Dementia patients at a Cumbria hospital were left for hours without food, according to a damning report by health regulators.
Those at the Ramsey Unit, in the grounds of Furness General, waited hours to be fed in the morning, weren't given their medication at the right time and were offered little by the way of mental stimulation.
Care Quality Commission inspectors also found a high number of patients had suffered falls due to a lack of staff to provide supervision.
Dementia patients at The Ramsey Unit in the grounds of Furness General Hospital were left for hours without food, according to a damning report by health regulators
WHAT WERE THE KEY FINDINGS?
told inspectors that chronic staff shortages were impacting on their
ability to provide adequate care that fully met patients’ needs.
Inspectors found a high number of patient falls due to insufficient staff to provide supervision.
Patients were often left in bed without breakfast until late morning due to there being insufficient staff on duty.
were not receiving their prescribed medications at the times they were
prescribed due to the length of time it was taking the registered nurse
to complete the medication round.
number of patients were found to be at risk of weight loss and
malnutrition because of their condition - but inspectors were unable to see what food and fluids
patients had been given as food intake charts had not been filled in.
cases where people lacked the capacity to consent, inspectors were
concerned the trust had not acted in accordance with legal requirements
and records relating to patients’ capacity were incomplete.
were concerned there was very little stimulation for patients and were
told that there was no therapeutic input into patients’ care.
The unit had extensive facilities- crafts room, sensory room and designed gardens but these were rarely used.
The report, published today, identified major failures at the hospital and found the unit failed to meet government standards on staffing and patient care.
It includes comments from staff at the unit who said: 'The staffing levels are horrendous. We are running around like headless chickens especially on the evening shift.
'We don’t have the staff to put people on the level of observation they need or to give the level of support they need.'
The unannounced inspection by the CQC also found that patients were often left in bed without breakfast until late morning due to there being insufficient staff on duty.
They were also not receiving their prescribed medications at the times they were
meant to, due to the length of time it was taking the registered nurse
to complete the medication round.
Many patients were also found to be at risk of weight loss and malnutrition and inspectors were unable to see what food and fluids patients had been given as food intake charts had not been filled in.
Claire Molloy, chief executive of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, has blamed the 'target culture' of the NHS for the failings and promised changes.
Ms Molloy said: 'We were all very shocked and concerned for our patients and staff when we heard the outcome of the CQC inspection.
'As the new Chief Executive, to hear that our patients are not being properly supported is very upsetting and something I never want to hear again.
'Our service was just not good enough. We’ve let down our staff and therefore we have let down our patients and for that we are sincerely sorry.
'It’s a real wake-up call for the trust and I am absolutely committed to ensuring this never happens again.'
Patients at the Ramsey Unit were not offered regular stimulation, were not always given their medication at the right time and were sometimes left lying in bed all morning
Admissions to the Ramsey Unit were suspended on October 11 following the unannounced inspection by the CQC.
Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC’s Regional Director for the North said: 'We were shocked by what we found at the Ramsey Unit and have warned the trust that improvements must be made.
'The trust had agreed to voluntarily to suspend admissions to the ward until they had fully addressed all areas of concern – the unit reopened to admissions on 18 November.
'In the meantime, we continue to monitor the trust extremely carefully, working closely with NHS England, to ensure that the required improvements are implemented.
'We will not hesitate to take further regulatory action, should this be necessary to ensure patients receive the quality of care and support they are entitled to expect.'
The trust responded to the criticisms by increasing staffing levels at the unit by 25 per cent.
It is also reviewing its internal assessment process and working to improve communications between management and staff.
After the CQC visit the unit (pictured) was briefly closed to new admissions. It has now reopened with 25 per cent more staff
Dr Sara Munro, interim director of nursing, has conducted a learning review into how the trust failed to notice the problems at the unit.
She said: 'The review found that the early warning systems were not good enough, there was lots of information available but it was not presented in a way that meant problems were easy to spot.'
Ms Molloy added: 'Being part of an NHS organisation means we have a lot of performance targets.
'There is a historic culture that makes it more challenging to view things through a quality and safety lens.
'What we’re trying to do now is turn that tanker around and ensure quality and safety are what drive everything we do.
'We have to use the report to make sure that this never happens again.
'The CQC report can act as a catalyst to make changes happen.'
Furness General Hospital was at the centre of another scandal recently when it was discovered that up to 16 babies had died needlessly at it's maternity unit due to poor care.
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