THE trust which runs Colchester Hospital has been told it requires improvement.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited the East Suffolk and North Essex Trust over a month last summer.

It is the first time the trust, which was formed in July 2018 when the trusts for Colchester and Ipswich hospitals merged, has been inspected under its new name.

The trust has been told it requires improvement overall.

It was given a good rating for whether services are effective, well-led and caring.

However, the safety and responsiveness of the services was found to require improvement.

Inspectors found Colchester Hospital requires improvement overall, the same rating it received at its last inspection in 2017.

They rated safety and how well led the hospital was as needing improvement.

The hospital was found to be good in the effective, caring and responsive categories.

Urgent and emergency care, medical care, surgery, maternity services, and outpatients were inspected.

The report on emergency care said: “The service did not have enough staff to care for patients and keep them safe.

“Staff did not consistently assess risks to patients presenting with acute mental health illness and act on them, particularly in relation to environmental risks.

“Safe processes were not always followed to ensure medicines were always stored and recorded correctly.”

It found waiting times were above the national average and some patients were waiting too long for treatment.

Staff were praised for working well together and treating patients with compassion and kindness. The report said staff understood how to protect patients from abuse.

Maternity, medical care, surgery and outpatient care at the hospital were rated good overall.

Inspectors praised areas of outstanding practice, including new technology in urology and consultants offering training opportunities during their own time.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the trust, said: “We were inspected six months ago when we were merging systems across our hospital sites, and we have now completed most of this work. We know there are some areas we clearly need to improve.”

Helen Taylor, chairman of the trust, added: “The report’s recommendations are extremely helpful in taking us forward for the future. Our overall rating of requires improvement reflects some of the major challenges we face.”

Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “Whilst it’s encouraging the trust has areas of outstanding practice and is rated good for being effective, caring and well-led, more progress needs to be made to change the overall rating.

“Some of the issues we found were understandably caused by complications following the formation of a new trust and one which is the biggest in the locality. For example, the trust was in the process of recording the provision of mandatory training in key skills to all staff.

“This had been challenging due to the different recording systems and mandatory training programmes from each former hospital.

“At the time of our inspection, the trust was still aligning systems and programmes.

“This meant that some of the information submitted prior to inspection and within this report did not reflect an accurate picture of training performance.

“Risks to patients were not always assessed, monitored and managed effectively. In the emergency departments staff did not always complete risk assessments for patients in a timely manner, particularly for patients with mental health needs.”

“Despite these concerns, inspectors observed the leadership across services was mostly effective despite the challenges of managing a newly merged trust.