Published: 15:00, 20 June 2019
| Updated: 15:55, 20 June 2019
Delays at Medway Maritime Hospital were ranked among the worst in the country by patients last year, newly published data has revealed.
NHS England received 436 responses to a survey sent out to 1,178 patients who stayed at the hospital for one night or more in July last year — a rate of 37% against a national average of 45%.
Of those who did answer questions about the care they received the majority had issues with how long it took to get a bed and the delay leaving the hospital.
They were rated at 6.1 and 5.2 out of 10 respectively.
The 6.1 score was down from 7.2 the previous year and was just 0.2 points clear of the worst performing hospital. Contrastingly the best performing trust got 9.5.
The 5.2 was again down but only by a fraction and was also only 0.2 points ahead of the bottom-place facility. On top of that the average score for the length of time it took to leave was 6.4, just 0.1 above the foot of the table.
The Windmill Road hospital was rated worse than most trusts in five of 11 categories.
It didn't excel in any categories, but ranked reasonably well for operations and planned admissions.
Trust chief James Devine has previously praised the hospital's policy of aiming to assess patients within 15 minutes of arrival at A&E and credited it with a reduction in waiting times.
But issues such as preparing accommodation in the community for patients leaving hospital are difficult to overcome.
Mr Devine said: “We are disappointed that the results do not reflect the experience we want our patients to have.
“One of the key pieces of feedback is that patients are waiting too long to be admitted to a ward; this is often caused by a lack of bed spaces in the hospital. This is a problem we are aware of and having been working hard to address.
He added the twice-weekly PARIS (Patient At Risk of Increased Stay) reviews for patients who have been in hospital for six days or more have helped free up more space while the Same Day Emergency Centre (SCEC), which will provide same day care for patients who arrive at hospital who may otherwise be admitted on to a ward, is opening soon.
Work is ongoing on to ensurarrangementsts are in place for whepatentsts leave hospital.
He said: “We are pleased that a number of areas in the survey showed improvements in our patients’ experience at the hospital. These include improved communication between staff and patients about their surgery or procedure, ensuring patients did not share sleeping areas with the opposite sex and improved speed of admission for planned procedures."
Nationally the majority of respondents had confidence in the doctors and nurses treating them and felt that staff answered their questions clearly.
But there was little improvement in most categories and this year’s results show an increase in those reporting lengthy delays, dissatisfaction with information provided when leaving hospital, and those who felt a lack of involvement in their care.
More than a quarter of people delayed getting out of hospital had to wait for more than four hours, while 39% were not happy with how long it took to get a bed.
Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker praised staff but said the lack of progress was "disappointing".
He added: "Last year’s survey showed a healthcare system still delivering improvements despite growing pressure. But this year, the improvement trend we have seen for the past six years has not been sustained.
“Staff are working incredibly hard, but it is clear we have reached a point where this alone is not enough. The mounting pressure on the system is having a direct impact on how people are experiencing inpatient care and the need for greater collaboration between local health and care services has never been more apparent.”