An expert taskforce is being sent into Basildon and Thurrock hospital amid concerns about standards of care.
The independent regulator highlighted higher-than-expected death rates among patients, and poor standards of hygiene, including blood-spattered kit.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the trust as “good” overall in October.
But a new report from an unannounced inspection team carried out by the CQC found evidence of sub-standard care.
The inspectors saw:
• Floors and curtains stained with blood
• Blood-splattered on trays used to carry equipment
• Badly soiled mattresses in the A&E department with stains soaked through to the foam filling
• Items that should only be used once still in use
• Equipment in the resuscitation room that was past the use-by date
• A children’s blood pressure cuff heavily stained with blood
• Suction machines contaminated with fluid inside and out with what looked like mould growing on the equipment
The inspectors criticised a poor care environment in A&E, in particular a lack of privacy for patients.
They also highlighted inadequate arrangements to treat children, with few specialist paediatric staff.
Monitor chairman Dr William Moyes said: “We will be reviewing the trust’s performance regularly and in detail – if we don’t see measurable results quickly, we’ll take further action.”
The independent hospital analysis website Dr Foster has found the Essex trust to have a hospital standardised mortality ratio of 136.
This means the rate of death among patients at the trust is a third higher than would be expected by looking at national figures, after adjusting for patients’ age and the severity of their illness.
“Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients’ Association, said: “Yet again we find patients being let down appallingly.
“Lack of monitoring, lack of help with feeding, lack of dignity. How many times do the public need to keep hearing about this before the government is embarrassed enough to do something about it?
“The evidence was there but not acted on. That is completely unacceptable. The system of regulation and supervision needs to be urgently reformed.”