GPonline understands that on 27 July the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an unannounced inspection to the hospital's A&E department and did not find adequate safety improvements.
An email from the Medway CCG to GPs said: ‘The trust (Medway Foundation Trust) was issued with a notice from the CQC that informed the trust of its intention to use, if necessary, Section 31 of the Health and Social Care Act. This means that if immediate improvements are not made that the CQC could use section 31 to limit or close the function of the A&E at Medway Hospital.’
The CQC issued a formal warning to the trust in March. A report in December by health firm Dr Foster said the trust had significantly higher than expected death rates, while in October the CQC issued three formal warnings over poor maternity care.
The CCG email continued: ‘...that the hospital was under pressure, mainly linked to a spike in ambulances arriving at the hospital. The pressure was sustained and last night we had to put in place a divert for ambulances to go to Darent Valley Hospital for a period of two hours in order to relieve the pressure at MFT (Medway Foundation Trust).'
A Kent GP, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘I personally feel that this was a very necessary step and absolutely justified in this case. The system is crumbling and we all need to take some responsibility but also show restraint in grabbing DES/LES contracts which distract GPs and divert manpower to the unnecessary pursuit of targets.’