FALIURE to assess A&E patients in a timely manner has resulted in a £4,000 for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust (SaTH).

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) issued the fixed penalty notice to the trust because it failed to comply with national clinical guidance that all children and adults must be assessed within 15 minutes of arrival.

It also failed to implement a system that ensured all children who left the emergency department without being seen were followed up in a timely way by a competent healthcare professional.

Following inspections on April 18, 2019 and November 29, 2019, the CQC imposed seven conditions on the trust's registration requiring them to report the time from admission to triage by a clinician, ensure follow-ups were undertaken for children who were not seen at the department and to report to the CQC what systems were in place for effective management of patients under the age of 18 through the emergency care pathway.

Following information sent to CQC from the trust, it was identified that these conditions had not been fully adhered to.

The CQC say SaTH breached these conditions at both Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, and Princess Royal Hospital, between April 18, 2019 and September 29, 2020.

CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, explained the decision.

"The trust has not responded satisfactorily to previous enforcement action regarding how quickly patients are assessed upon entering the urgent and emergency department," he said.

"We have issued a penalty notice due to the severity of the situation and to ensure the necessary, urgent improvements are made.

"It is essential that patients are seen in a timely way when they arrive at an emergency department; failure to do so could result in deteriorating health, harm, or even death, which is why national guidelines exist and must be followed.

"We will continue to carefully monitor the trust to determine whether this drives the required change and will take further action if there is no progress."

Meanwhile a spokesperson for SaTH said the Trust were committed to reducing triage times at both hospitals.

They said: "We have made important changes to our processes in our emergency departments and these, along with a successful recruitment drive, has seen our average triage time reduce over the past few weeks to nine minutes at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and 13 minutes at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

"In recent months we have successfully recruited 14 registered children's nurses and a paediatric emergency medicine consultant to work in our emergency departments.

"We have also increased the number of staff nurses on duty to ensure that an adult and a registered children's nurse are available at all times to greet our patients and complete a timely initial assessment.

"We are committed to providing the best possible care to all of our patients, their families and carers."