THE borough's hospital chiefs need to work harder to address continuing safety concerns that have led to a further 'requires improvement' rating for the Dudley Group - according to MPs.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Russells Hall Hospital and the Corbett and Guest Outpatient Centres, has been told to improve by the Chief Inspector of Hospitals following an inspection earlier this year.

In a report, published on July 12, inspectors said sepsis treatment was not always carried out in a timely manner and concerns were raised about the Trust's diagnostic imaging - X-rays, ultrasound and MRI scans - as staff were not properly trained.

The Trust was given an overall rating of 'requires improvement' by the Care Quality Commission but was rated 'inadequate' in the category looking at whether services were deemed safe.

A 'good' rating was given for whether services were considered effective and caring, and improvements were called for in the category judging responsiveness and leadership of services.

The report also said there was a 'lack of awareness' surrounding ionising radiation regulations.

All four Black Country MPs have been keeping a close eye on the Trust which previously received an overall 'requires improvement' rating in 2017.

Following this latest report Stourbridge MP Margot James said: "The hospital has now had over 18 months to put itself right.

"It’s had a huge amount of support from the NHS improvement body who have drafted in expertise from Wolverhampton and elsewhere.

"I do appreciate it’s hard work under the scrutiny of the CQC but for the hospital to still be in a position where it requires improvement and to still have this issue with patient safety - it’s extremely concerning.”

Dudley South MP Mike Wood, who himself received lifesaving treatment at Russells Hall Hospital when he fell dangerously ill with sepsis in 2017, said: "When I met with the CQC and NHS Improvement they were pleased that improvements had been made but there is much more that is urgently needed.

"It is clearly not good enough that 18 months after the first inspection, the CQC are still finding the same failings at A&E.

"The new Chair must make sure that these failings are corrected so that everybody can be sure of receiving the best possible treatment and care at Russells Hall, like I received when I needed it."

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris added: “These remaining issues need to see a much quicker pace of change. Many patients have noticed the improvements but have been frustrated with the speed in which these changes have been implemented. The hospital needs to redouble its efforts to get these problems sorted, and quickly.”

Dudley North MP Ian Austin said he was "really concerned about what’s happening at Russells Hall" and added: "There are clearly problems at the hospital and I want to know that its senior management are doing all they can to turn the situation round and make sure people in Dudley get the care and treatment they need."

He continued: "Hospitals across the Black Country and around the country are under huge pressure after years of underfunding and increased demand.

"That means we’re now seeing longer waiting times for treatment and higher numbers of people waiting longer for A&E treatment around the country.

"Doctors, nurses, midwives and other staff at Russells Hall are working flat out but they need proper support from the government and I have raised this with ministers too."

The Trust said it was making "steady progress" across all services but was "disappointed" with the 'inadequate' rating for safety and diagnostic imaging.

In a statement the Trust said figures showed sepsis mortality was below the national average and below what was expected for the trust and in a statement bosses said: "We are confident emergency patients are seen in timely manner with 83.7 of patients being seen within 15 minutes (4th – 10th July 2019)."

The Trust said its diagnostic team put actions in place at the time of the inspection and was confident of improvements and the statement added: "We introduced a matron to oversee quality and safety and have increased monitoring 24/7 of our inpatients waiting for imaging.

"We have also conducted a comprehensive staffing review to ensure any additional posts are in the right places to support patient care and safety."

The Trust said specialist MI and CT radiographers were now in post and additional radiographers will take up posts by September.