WORCESTER hospital has a 'bright future' says the woman at the helm despite a damning report which shows it has failed to improve.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was warned to get its house in order in December 2015 when it was placed in 'special measures'. But an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in April, the findings of which were published today (Tuesday), suggests little has changed for the better and that patients are still getting 'poor care'.

The trust will continue to be rated 'inadequate' by the independent health and social care regulator.

Today (Tuesday) England's chief inspector for hospitals said the trust, which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester, has failed to take ownership of problems across its hospitals.

Special measures was extended following an inspection in November and December last year.

An unannounced, 'focused' inspection was carried out on April 11 and April 12. Inspectors visited Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster hospitals.

CQC inspectors also visited on April 25 to interview key members of the trust’s senior management team. Inspectors found there had been 'no tangible improvement in performance since the previous inspection' and now insist on 'urgent improvements'.

The number of patients in the emergency department in Worcester waiting between four and 12 hours to be admitted or discharged is 'consistently higher than the national average'.

Some risk assessments records in medical care wards at Worcester were not routinely completed, including those for elderly patients. Staff caring for patients in the corridors in the emergency department had become standard practice. Patient’s privacy, dignity and effective care remained compromised.

Inspectors found staff were hard-working, passionate and caring. However, many staff were 'clearly frustrated' that they were not able to effect change due to poor communication between ward, divisional and executive levels.

Professor Ted Baker, the chief inspector of hospitals, said: “I remain concerned that the trust has not taken sufficient action to address the requirements of our previous inspections, and patients using services continue to experience a poor level of care.

“In our recent inspections we have found there was little effective ownership of the need to establish systems to assess quality of services or to recognise, assess and mitigate risks to patient safety."

Trust chief executive, Michelle McKay said: "We are disappointed with, but fully accept, the shortfalls.

"I am sorry the trust did not make all the necessary improvements in that period and have continued to let down our patients, their families and carers by not meeting the quality standards they rightly expect.

"We want all our patients to get the best care possible and regret that this isn't always happening but we’re determined to put things right."

Mrs McKay said a clinical model had now been agreed for the trust after 'a long period of uncertainty'. This will allow them to access £29 million of Government funding to drive improvement, contributing towards 81 extra beds and 141 more parking spaces. The trust aims to have some of these beds available by next winter.

Improvements are also set to begin imminently to the emergency department, creating a bigger assessment area which it is hoped will help improve patient flow.

Since May the trust has recruited 43 consultants and doctors with a further 34 offered posts following a recruitment trip to India.

Mrs McKay hopes that, now a clinical model has been agreed, it will be easier to retain and recruit staff to help drive improvements.

The former nurse, who has been in place since March 27, said one of the most disappointing things for her had been the poorer than expected infection control practices such as hand washing.

But she added: "We are absolutely determined to improve. This is what we're focused on all day, every day. We are starting a programme of cultural change."

Mrs McKay said she was not afraid to speak to staff on the ground at Worcester, for example by ensuring that doctors observe the 'bare below the elbow' policy which helps stop the spread of infection.

She said: "The fact we have those capital funds coming means there is a bright future. Right now, we have to make sure we make those improvements."

Areas where the trust needs to improve

• Governance systems must allow full oversight at board level of the potential risk to patients. This must include the recognition, assessment, monitoring and mitigation of risk.

• Patients in the emergency department must receive medication prescribed for them at the correct time and interval.

• All patients’ conditions must be monitored effectively to enable any deterioration to be quickly identified and care and treatment is provided in a timely way.

• The privacy and dignity of all patients in the emergency department must be supported at all times, including when care is provided in corridor areas.

• Identifiable patient information must be stored securely and not kept on display.

• All patients in the children and young people’s service with mental health needs must have the appropriate level of staff one to one care in accordance with their risk assessments.

• Processes must be in place to ensure any medicine omissions are escalated appropriately to the medical team, including when patients refuse to take prescribed medication.