Staff in a hospital emergency department failed to stick to social distancing guidance and did not use personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately, inspectors found.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has downgraded the emergency department’s rating at the Royal Oldham Hospital.
It said one staff member “interacted closely” with patients without using gloves, washing hands or changing PPE.
The hospital’s chief nursing officer apologised to patients and the public.
The CQC inspection on 30 November found several breaches of coronavirus protocols.
Its report said a member of staff took a patient’s history on the respiratory corridor without wearing eye protection.
Inspectors also saw a relative being directed to the urgent treatment centre without any Covid screening.
The department was downgraded from a rating of “good” to “requiring improvement” following the inspection.
The CQC wrote to the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, afterwards “because we were concerned about the potential significant risk of harm to patients”.
It said the trust “took immediate action to address our concerns”.
The CQC acknowledged at the time the North West was experiencing “significant levels of Covid 19-related pressure” but said it carried out its unannounced inspection partly due to concerns from staff and public concerns about the safety and quality of services.
The CQC said inspectors saw department staff not adhering to hand hygiene protocols “on multiple occasions”.
Social distancing was also identified as a problem in corridors for staff, patients and ambulance crews, with patients on trolleys positioned head-to-toe.
Ann Ford, CQC’s deputy chief inspector for the north, said hospital staff were working hard to provide care to patients under challenging Covid-19 related pressure.
“Both staff and patients told us they were concerned about the safety of care being delivered in the urgent and emergency department,” she added.
Libby McManus, group chief nursing officer for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which the trust is part of, said the infection control was neither acceptable nor at its usual high standard.
“Our teams have used this report to make the necessary improvements and share learning across our organisation,” she said.
The CQC said it would continue to monitor the trust.