Jeremy Hunt has launched a new assessment exercise for hospital trusts in England to rate the quality of their responses to breaches in patient safety and their openness and honesty in reporting. It comes after the health secretary recently stated that 1 in 5 hospitals were still not taking patient safety seriously enough despite recent scandals surrounding the quality of care in NHS hospitals. 20.6% have been given a red ‘poor’ rating whilst 61.7% have been classed as ‘OK’. Only 17.7% have been rated as ‘Good’. The ‘poor’ rating has been applied where the quality and frequency of incident reporting was found to be below required standards and where the Trusts response to mistakes are considered to be dis-satisfactory.
Whilst patient groups welcome the move, many within the NHS have expressed concerns that this is an unfair ‘naming and shaming exercise’ which would encourage a culture of blame instead of learning. Hunt said:
“We must never be complacent – once a week we operate on the wrong part of somebody’s body; that is not acceptable. This is a very big moment we have identified that the key to this is having an open an honest reporting culture. We have gone through all our hospitals and looked at some key matrix to see which has and which does not. We certainly do not want to humiliate anyone. If you have a group of hospitals that do not have the right reporting culture how are you going to change that unless you identity that?”
The results of the assessment exercise will be published online next week on a new and dedicated website which will allow patients to see how well their local hospital currently performs in regards to patient safety when compared to others across the country.
Mental Health Service Cuts Putting Vulnerable Patients at Risk
Concerns were raised over the state of Mental Health care at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association last week. Delegates discussed cuts which have caused a reduction of mental health beds by 9% over the last three years. We have previously reported on how a lack of beds has forced mental health patients to travel hundreds of miles for care they desperately need. The BMA Co-Chair of the Junior Doctors Committee, Dr Andrew Collier, addressed the meeting and said:
“The constant fire-fighting due to the abysmal shortages we face has got to end. If the government is serious about achieving parity of esteem for mental health services these damaging cuts and closures must stop now. Time and again we’re told that when beds are cut it’s part of an overall strategy to invest in better, improved services but I’m beginning to think that’s not the case.”
Following Dr Collier was Dr Jason Holdcroft, a psychiatry trainee who highlighted the fact that community teams are forced to manage more and more unwell patients at home with dwindling resources. He said that in trying to free up beds more quickly ‘there is pressure on in-patient teams to discharge patients as early as possible’ into the care of community mental health teams who may have losr their support nurses and therapists due to the cuts. He finished by saying: “the end result of all of this is sometimes tragedy – avoidable deaths and suicides where the system has not provided the care that patients need.”