A Care Quality Commission inspection has found examples of "outstanding" practice at Arrowe Park Hospital.

Inspectors carried out an unannounced visit on October 19 and 20 last year, after concerns were raised about the quality and safety of medical care and urgent and emergency care services.

During the visit inspectors found staff "did not always identify and quickly act upon patients at risk of deterioration in the urgent and emergency department waiting room.

"The medical care service did not always have enough staff to care for patients. Not all staff had training in key skills, mandatory training compliance for medical staff did not meet trust targets."

It was also found that "people could not always access services when they needed them and waiting times were not always in line with national standards, this has been impacted by COVID-19."

There were some positives. The report highlights that staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity and took account of their individual needs. It was also noted that staff felt respected, supported and valued and were focused on the needs of the patients receiving care and they engaged well with patients.

The service also performed in the top 25% of trusts for cancer waiting times. In September 2021, the Trust saw 96% of patients within two weeks of an urgent GP referral.

During the visit, Inspectors also found that in regards to medical care, there was some "outstanding" practise. This included an ambulatory heart failure service for day case patients and community referrals to try to prevent admissions, as well as a virtual Covid-19 ward to support patients at home.

Medical care as a service had improved overall and it was rated as ‘Good’ in 4 of the 5 domains that CQC inspect.

The service managed and controlled infection risk well and learned lessons from them. The CQC noted that staff provided good care and treatment and that managers monitored effectiveness of the service to make sure staff were competent.

Inspectors also highlighted design, maintenance and use of facilities did not always keep people safe. Investment is being made to transform urgent care at Arrowe Park Hospital.

Following this inspection, the rating for medical care improved from requires improvement to good overall.

It is also rated good for being effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

The rating for being safe has not changed and remains as requires improvement.

The rating for urgent and emergency services remains as requires improvement overall, as well as for being safe and responsive. The ratings for effective and well-led improved from requires improvement to good and caring remains as good.

The overall rating for the trust remains as requires improvement.

Dr Nikki Stevenson, deputy chief executive and medical director at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, which runs Arrowe Park, said: “We thank the Care Quality Commission for their inspection so we can continue to make improvements and it’s very useful to have an external perspective on our services. It is great to see the CQC recognise the improvements already made in Medical Care and that they found there were some examples of ‘outstanding’ practises.

“As with other Trusts, our Urgent and Emergency Care Services have faced very high levels of attendances over the past year, which has also affected our ability to reach pre-pandemic targets on waiting times.

“However, we recognise the needs of our communities and are therefore investing in a development that will transform urgent care in Wirral. This will offer a state-of-the-art facility for the people of the Wirral and a much better experience. The work is due to start this year and we are really excited about those plans.

“We also recognise that our amazing staff have gone above and beyond in managing the huge challenges of the pandemic, whilst continuing to provide planned care and urgent services. We take on board the need to sustain our efforts to listen to our staff.”

Karen Knapton, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said: "When we visited Arrowe Park Hospital, we saw that the leadership team had taken action to address the issues raised at the previous inspection.

"We were pleased to see staff were focused on meeting the needs of patients and were clear about their roles and responsibilities.

"This work has resulted in the rating for medical care moving up from requires improvement to good and both medical care and urgent and emergency services continuing to be good at caring for patients.

"I recognise the enormous pressure NHS services are under across the country and that usual expectations cannot always be maintained, especially in urgent and emergency services. It’s important that the trust does all they can to mitigate risks to patient safety, this didn’t always happen.

"We found patients often had a long wait for admission, one person waited over 14 hours to be admitted on to the ward, which is unacceptable and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

"Overall, the trust had made improvements to the services we inspected. We will continue to monitor the trust closely to ensure these improvements are embedded and sustained and that that further improvements are ongoing."

To view the CQC inspection report visit the CQC website.