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Inspectors have ordered a hospital trust in west London to improve its infection prevention and control practices following a Covid-19 outbreak among staff.
The Care Quality Commission has used its regulatory powers to force Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to make urgent changes for the protection of patients and employees.
“We found a number of concerns relating to infection control”
These include actions around personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 testing for staff.
The CQC carried out an inspection of Hillingdon Hospital in Uxbridge on 4 and 5 August in response to concerns raised when a number of staff contracted Covid-19.
The trust made the decision to temporarily close the accident and emergency department at the hospital to new admissions after a Covid-19 outbreak was declared on 3 July.
According to media reports, as many as 70 staff from the hospital were self-isolating due to coronavirus.
The regulator said it would publish a report with the findings of the inspection in due course but in the meantime, it has placed conditions on the trust that require it to take immediate actions.
These include informing the CQC of the details of any system put in place to ensure staff are tested for Covid-19 and providing it with copies of repeated tests.
The trust has also been told to ensure staff wear PPE in high risk areas and that PPE is stored in a way that is “easily accessible”.
Social distancing must be observed throughout the hospital, said the CQC, while patient care plans must “consider Covid-19”.
“We want to assure our staff, patients and the wider community of our absolute commitment to their safety and wellbeing”
Dr Nigel Acheson, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “People using services at the Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are entitled to services that are safe, effective, caring and responsive.
“We found a number of concerns relating to infection control and this is why we have taken action to ensure the safety of patients, staff and visitors.
“We have imposed urgent conditions upon the trust’s registration and expect the Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to focus on making the required improvements as a matter of priority.”
The trust has been told to submit an infection prevention and control action plan for the hospital to the CQC and to provide weekly updates on its progress towards meeting it.
Dr Acheson said the CQC would return to the hospital for another inspection.
A spokesperson for Hillingdon Hospital trust said it had made already made improvements following the CQC inspection, particularly around infection prevention and control.
They said physical changes had been made to the building to support better social distancing and procedures had been reviewed “to make sure they are robust”.
“We are receiving expert support in making these improvements, and we [are] working with national organisations to receive additional support and are regularly updating them on our progress,” added the spokesperson.
“We believe that we are making progress, and we want to assure our staff, patients and the wider community of our absolute commitment to their safety and wellbeing.”