The disgraced Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has made “an acceptable start” at improving care, but there is still critical issues around staffing and equipment according to an NHS watchdog.
A three month progress report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned that there was an urgent need for new equipment and more nurses at the trust.
The report is the first of three mid review updates that will include unannounced inspections at the hospital.
In March the Healthcare Commission, which has since been replaced with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), revealed that “appalling” emergency care had resulted in patients dying needlessly at Stafford Hospital.
A report into mortality rates by the commission revealed that 400 more people died at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008 than would be expected.
It also found that there were deficiencies at “virtually every stage” of emergency care and managers pursued targets to the detriment of patient care.
One of the worst examples of care cited in the watchdog’s report was the use of receptionists to carry out initial checks on patients.
The report also cited low staffing levels, inadequate nursing, lack of equipment, lack of leadership, poor training and ineffective systems for identifying when things went wrong.
A full review of services will be published in 2010.
The latest report said: “Critical areas that remain to be addressed urgently by the trust include taking delivery of and use of equipment, bed management, achieving a full complement of nursing staff, improving engagement with people using services and driving forward a culture of caring.
“At this stage the trust needs a coherent strategy for rebuilding public confidence and ensuring that people using services today are treated in a caring manner.”
Christine Braithwaite, head of investigation and enforcement for the CQC, said: “We are satisfied that Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has made an acceptable start in implementing the systems, resources and people it needs to make the improvements recommended in the Healthcare Commission’s report of March 2009.
“The trust has put together and published an action plan, developed a comprehensive transformation programme and mortality rates are showing early signs of improvement, which is encouraging.
“While we recognise it will take time for the full effects of the trust’s actions to be felt, there are still areas which need to be addressed urgently such as the purchase and use of equipment and more nursing staff.
“We welcome the recent announcements of the appointment of a new chairman and interim chief executive who it is planned will be in post for two years.
“We plan to publish further reviews this autumn and early next year and will continue to monitor the trust to ensure the high quality of care deserved by those needing its services is delivered.”