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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have rated the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth as ‘inadequate’ after finding long queues of ambulances outside, and patients with serious symptoms waited hours to be assessed.

In May this year Portsmouth NHS Trust’s chief executive, Ursula Ward, stood down from her position with no explanation.

The CQC inspectors visited the Queen Alexandra Hospital in February and March and found the emergency department to be chaotic and posing an unacceptable risk to patients.

There were times during the inspection where up to sixteen ambulances were waiting outside the accident and emergency department. This represents a third of the total fleet for Hampshire.

Because of the backlog, inspectors found that on 11 occasions there were no ambulances available to respond to 999 calls.

When arriving at the hospital, vulnerable patients were forced to wait up to two hours in their ambulance before being taken into the hospital building.

Once inside the building, inspectors found the department to be overcrowded, with patients waiting on trolleys in corridors or being transferred to the “Jumbulance” – a large ambulance parked outside.

The CQC told the BBC that the trust had been slow to improve despite warnings and had to take “immediate action” to protect patients, including ceasing the use of the Jumbulance.

Inspectors found that there were significant delays in assessing patients with life-threatening conditions such as stroke or sepsis, and they say one patient with potential heart failure waited more than 5 hours to see a doctor.

The BBC reported that the NHS trust’s Interim Chief Executive, Tim Powell, said: “We recognise the picture painted by the CQC in this report and we are very sorry that we have failed to provide to our patients, on a consistent basis, the high standards of care that we expect of ourselves.

We fully accept the inspector’s findings and… we are determined to ensure that by… next winter, our service will be better.”

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