THE healthcare watchdog has called on East Surrey Hospital to improve the care given to patients, and to clean up its act in the fight against MRSA.
The Care Quality Commission's (CQC) inspectors visited the hospital in Earlswood after the alarm was raised by a concerned "whistleblower". The hospital was given a 28-day deadline to draw up a plan for improvement.
The CQC report, published earlier this month, said: "Proper steps have not been taken to ensure people using the pre-operative assessment area are protected against the risks of receiving unsafe or inappropriate care or treatment."
Michael Wilson, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the hospital, said he accepted the criticisms and put them down to a lack of beds which ongoing building work was in the process of remedying. A new 40-bed ward is due to open on Monday.
The CQC had said some patients were kept in the pre-operative assessment area (POPPA) for days. This area was also being used as a temporary ward which Mr Wilson attributed to a lack of beds elsewhere.
But the report said the POPPA did not have the appropriate facilities for a long stay, for example, one patient complained of having nowhere to wash.
Mr Wilson told the Mirror: "They never asked us to close it down. They didn't ask me to do that. What they said is it's not great, but it is safe.
"Normally that area is used by patients who are being prepared for surgery – then they have their operation – then they go somewhere else afterwards. Because of the capacity issues we've had to use it.
"It's certainly, for me, better than lying on a trolley in a corridor, but I fully accept it's not where we want to put patients and we will not be using that area after Monday."
On the subject of MRSA, and hospital-acquired infections, the CQC report stated: "There is an indication that a lack of consistent diligence exists in the prevention and monitoring of MRSA infections."
Mr Wilson said: "We need to eliminate hospital acquired infections wherever we can. We've got very strict targets – it was four [MRSA incidents in 2011] and we've had five. These targets are really high, especially in the context of a hospital that's overcrowded."