Serious concerns about patient safety have been raised over the running of an A&E department in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
It is under investigation by the Healthcare Commission over apparently higher death rates, poor leadership, the structure and operation of the department and governance arrangements.
The commission raised the issues with the trust during an ongoing investigation into mortality rates, and asked for immediate action.
The watchdog said the trust has responded “positively”, improving medical staffing levels and increasing the number of nurses in A&E.
But it warned that more staff are needed to match the levels recommended by the College of Emergency Medicine and to reduce the reliance on temporary and junior staff.
A spokeswoman for the commission said the senior-doctor cover in A&E had increased to two and a half whole-time equivalents, up from just one in May. The recommended level for a department of this size is four.
The trust is currently recruiting more consultants in conjunction with the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust. The number of middle-grade doctors had also increased, from four to eight whole-time equivalents, though still falling short of the recommended nine.
Martin Yeates, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Patient safety is our highest priority and we are committed to driving up standards throughout our hospitals.
“We welcome the involvement of the Healthcare Commission and their acknowledgement that we are taking rapid action in resolving the issues they raised.”
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