STAFFING levels provided by the Wye Valley NHS Trust are having a “negative impact on patient experience”, a care and treatment review has found.

NHS England voiced the concerns following a review into the quality of care and treatment at the trust.

An NHS panel looked into the trust’s acute services at Hereford’s County Hospital and community hospitals in Bromyard, Leominster and Ross-on-Wye in a two-day visit last October. It was carried out following concerns by an NHS Quality Surveillance Group about raised mortality rates at the trust.

The 20-strong visiting October panel also highlighted concern over patient privacy and dignity on the day case unit in Hereford while some staff said they would not want to be treated in certain wards.

Support to clinicians was described as poor in several areas while other findings included “immediate risks regarding insecure access to the theatres”.

Staff also reported some training opportunities had been cancelled because of “operational pressures” while staffing levels were described as having “a negative impact on patient experience” as reported by some patients in “most areas”.

“It is clear from the findings that the trust fell short of the standards the NHS sets itself, in some clinical areas,” said Sue Doheny, director of nursing for NHS England in Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. “It is essential swift actions are taken to ensure patients receive the best possible care.”

The panel did praise the trust’s committed nursing staff, adding it was pleased the trust has set-up a workshop to look into the higher than expected mortality rates. The panel was also impressed all appraisals were complete on the maternity unit in Hereford.

The trust has been told to provide clarity immediately on where board level responsibility for mortality rests. It will also have to remove beds immediately on the Hereford day case unit, or increase the space between them, to meet infection control standards and ensure theatres are secure and only accessible via swipe card.

“While we are pleased the report has rightly highlighted areas of good practice by our hard working and dedicated staff members, we take on board the comments of the team which highlighted areas of concern where we have already made improvements,” said Derek Smith, the NHS Trust’s chief executive.

“We acknowledge their concerns and have already begun implementing a detailed and robust action plan which addresses these key issues. We want to make improvements which are sustainable, lead to an improved flow of patients through our care which will ultimately give our patients a better experience.”