YORK Hospital bosses have praised the hard work and commitment of staff in its emergency department after a watchdog rated it as 'inadequate'.

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust also said it had made significant progress with an action plan to make improvements required by the Care Quality Commission.

The commission says it issued a warning to the trust after an unannounced inspection in January, requiring immediate improvements to the emergency departments at both York and Scarborough Hospitals, and it would return to check on improvements.

It said the access and flow of patients was creating significant delays in admitting them on to wards to enable them to receive timely and appropriate care and treatment, exposing them to the risk of harm.

Patients with mental health needs were also not being cared for safely in line with national guidance. “The department did not have a suitable area for patients presenting with risk of self-harm.”

Nor did the department meet standards for children in emergency settings. “There was no separation between children and adults in the waiting or assessment areas and there were no designated paediatric cubicles.”

It said inspectors were not assured there were sustainable plans to ensure sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled, competent and experienced clinical staff to meet patients’ needs.

Not all incidents were being reported and investigated to identify mitigating actions to prevent re-occurrence and reduce risks to patients.

It added it had carried out the inspection in response to "concerning information" received over patient care, and the department was under adverse pressure at the time.

A trust spokesperson said the inspections did not affect its overall ratings and the inspectors’ concerns related in the main to staffing levels for nursing and medical staff, and the trust’s ability to meet key access targets, which remained a key priority for it.

“Much work has happened since these inspections and we have made significant progress with our action plan in the areas highlighted,” they said. “We continue to work closely with the CQC and are keeping them up to date with the steps we are taking to meeting their improvement requirements.

“It is important to stress that these findings in no way reflect the hard work and commitment of staff, which we are seeing at its best in the current testing times. Whilst the report clearly highlighted areas where we need to improve, there were many examples throughout the report that show how committed staff are to providing the best care they can for patients, and are ensuring patients are kept safe.”