It has been announced this week by The Croydon Guardian that Croydon University Hospital Accident and Emergency department is going to get a £17.5 million refurbishment to bring it up to 21st century standards.

This is very much in response to a damning Care Quality Commission report released on 21st November 2013, which focused on several serious problems in the Accident and Emergency department at Croydon. The key comment that has led to this investment is that the CQC found that the “A&E environment was not well designed or maintained. It was cramped and lacked lines of sight between staff and patients. The observation ward was very crowded”. It is therefore encouraging that the NHS has identified this failing and is seeking to rectify this issue.

However, the Care Quality Commission report expressed other concerns about the Accident and Emergency department that this investment doesn’t appear to address. The CQC noted that staff vacancy levels were very high. There is clearly little value in spending millions on a refurbishment if there won’t be enough staff to run the department. Problems with staff, both in staffing levels and a lack of a caring attitude, appear to be the overriding complaints of patients of the department. This is reflected in the views of the patients who have commented on their experiences on the NHS website. Very little of these focus on the facilities, but on the apparently poor service provided. Some of these comments make for very concerning reading, especially as the CQC report was released in November 2013.

Whilst investment is to be welcomed, this should be directed at the people providing treatment rather than a department refurbishment.