The county’s A&E has improved according to inspectors – but more work is still required to ensure waiting times fall.

The rating for the county’s A&E department has moved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with the overall rating for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust remaining at ‘requires improvement.’

Inspectors visited the county in November last year to examine urgent and emergency care at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital for the first time since 2019.

Worcester News: DELAYS: Ambulances queuing outside Worcestershire Royal Hospital

Under-pressure hospital staff were praised by CQC inspector Charlotte Rudge who said: “We found that, despite the considerable pressure, there were significantly improved processes to assess, monitor and treat patients compared to our last inspection.

“However, the department was under considerable pressure and assessments and particularly reassessments were not always completed as required.

READ MORE: All non-emergency surgery to move from Worcestershire Royal Hospital

The latest inspection found that patients at the hospital were not always protected from harm, staff did not always have up-to-date training in key skills including safeguarding and staff did not always manage medicines safely.

Inspectors also pointed to long handover delays for patients arriving by ambulances and the hospital’s facilities were not always appropriate for the services being delivered in them.

Not all staff at the hospital felt respected, supported and valued, according to the CQC.

Worcester News:

Inspectors said overall, services at the hospital were ‘effective’ and ‘caring’ in the two ‘good’ ratings for the trust with the three other questions on whether the trust is safe, responsive, and well-led all receiving ‘requires improvement’ ratings from the CQC.

Despite the improved rating, the trust was told it must still do more to tackle long A&E waiting times.

READ MORE: Worcestershire Royal Hospital boss says junior doctors' strike to cause harm

The CQC rated whether the county’s urgent and emergency was ‘safe’ with an improved rating of ‘requires improvement’ with ‘effective’ remaining at a ‘good’ rating and whether the service was ‘caring’ was given an improved ‘good’ rating.

Inspectors also rated whether urgent and emergency care was responsive as ‘requires improvement’ – a step-up from the previous ‘inadequate’ rating – and said the same about whether the service was ‘well-led’ awarding it an upgraded ‘requires improvement’ rating.

Worcestershire’s hospitals, including Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester, the Alexandra in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital, moved out of special measures after nearly five years in 2020.

Worcester News: PLEASED: Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS TrustPLEASED: Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (Image: Newsquest)

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of the trust, said: “This latest report means that we are no longer rated inadequate in any area across any of our hospitals - which is positive news for our patients, staff and local communities.

“Following the inspection in November, a number of immediate actions were taken to address areas of concern – for example, improving the way we safely discharge patients home, or the place they call home, from our dedicated discharge lounges.

“A detailed action plan following the publication of the report will now be developed and implemented to continue the improvements.”

READ MORE: Worcestershire hospital boss 'fearing prison time' over A&E chaos

Mr Hopkins, who will soon be leaving the trust for a new NHS job in Essex, said the hospital was continuing to work with West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) to cut waiting times and reduce handover delays.

A bigger A&E is expected to open at the hospital in Worcester in early Autumn.

Last month, the trust chief executive said the current situation with long waiting times, upcoming industrial action and questions over funding was the ‘worst he had seen in his 37 years.’

The admission came after he revealed at the start of the year he was ‘fearing prison time for manslaughter’ over long ambulance queues outside the city’s hospital.