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CQC inspection at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford finds number of issues amid Covid-19 infection control concerns

An under-fire hospital trust is making "urgent improvements" after inspectors found a string of issues - including staff not washing their hands properly.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, after concerns were raised about the standard of care and risk to patients at East Kent Hospitals Trust .

The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford
The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford

The trust has been accused of struggling to control the spread of coronavirus within its hospitals in Ashford , Margate , Canterbury , Dover and Folkestone .

It is thought in-hospital transmission of Covid-19 has played a major part in a worrying death toll and high infection rates across east Kent , with new cases particularly alarming in Ashford.

Following these concerns, the CQC paid a visit to the William Harvey on August 12.

There, inspectors from the independent health regulator identified a number of problems including that staff did not always practice correct hand hygiene, while not all sinks had soap available, and hand sanitiser stations were not always replenished.

They also found staff lacked clarity on the Covid-19 testing methodology, that incorrect PPE had been used or had not been used correctly, that two-hourly cleaning was not carried out or recorded, and that non-wipeable furniture was in use.

"We are making urgent improvements to infection prevention and control in all our hospitals..."

The CQC says staff were also "not following social distancing in a staff room".

In the emergency department meanwhile, inspectors observed that not all staff understood what needed to be done if a walk-in patient presented with Covid-19 related symptoms.

There was also a lack of sinks within the emergency department for staff and visitors, and a lack of hand hygiene guidance on display.

The CQC is set to publish a full report on its findings in due course, but has provided initial feedback following the inspection, which it says the Trust has "immediately acted on".

Responding to the findings, a spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said: “The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff are at the heart of everything we do and we are making urgent improvements to infection prevention and control in all our hospitals.

“We have made physical changes to our buildings to support better social distancing and we have strengthened our procedures and continue to repeat staff training.

“We are receiving expert support to help make these improvements, and we are regularly reporting our actions to the CQC."

The trust has put a number of improvements in place to improve its 'infection prevention and control' (IPC) programme.

These include refreshed mandatory training for all clinical staff across the trust, and the recruitment of a new interim Director of Infection, Prevention and Control.

The trust is also carrying out a review of its IPC policies, and has made physical changes to its sites.

It is also ensuring staff are aware of the best practices around hand hygiene and the use of the correct PPE, and has introduced a new programme around hand sanitising stations to ensure they are working correctly and filled.

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