A recent investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that the emergency departments of 10 Trusts were “worse than expected”in the services they provided to patients in early 2014.

The 10 Trusts were:

  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust;
  • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust;
  • Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Four of these Trusts are based in the London region, where there are higher patient numbers and demand on services.

Although overall scoring across A&E services in the NHS had improved, the Chief Inspector for Hospitals noted that there was a growing issue of “significant variations” in the quality of care provided between Trusts, with the worst 10 highlighted as falling well below expected standards, scoring below 20% for some investigation responses. It is concerning that there are clearly Trusts and A&E departments falling behind the standards of the rest of the NHS, particularly when they are based in high population areas. Another concern with the investigation is that it only considers the views of 34% of patients attending A&E. It is unlikely that the most ill and high risk patients were engaged as part of the investigations, so it may have just involved patients with low level health concerns.

Hopefully, this investigation will result in these Trusts being part of the focus of the recent announcements for additional investment of £2 billion in frontline NHS services. The NHS and Department of Health need to work together to ensure that a consistent level and quality of service is provided across the country, and that patients don’t suffer a location lottery when trying to access emergency services.