The Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust has been in the news again this week following calls for the management of its two hospitals, Cannock Chase & Stafford, to be put into the hands of ‘other local providers’. Today, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given the move his backing and said that it needed to happen ‘as soon as possible’ to safeguard the people of Stafford who have endured years of ‘uncertainty and failures in care’.
Measures proposed by administrators included the closure of Stafford A&E between 10pm and 8am, as well as maternity, paediatric and critical care units being downgraded. Mr Hunt said that a decision on mid-wife managed maternity units would be made following a review by NHS England. Campaigners and local residents expressed strong concerns over the proposed removal of consultant led maternity care, saying that maternity complications require the quick attendance of a specialist and not a 20 mile journey to another hospital.
Problems at Staffordshire Hospital came to prominence following the formation of ‘Cure the NHS’, a campaign set up Julie Bailey whose mother died at the hospital in 2007. Later, a public enquiry found that between 400 and 1200 more deaths had occurred at Stafford Hospital than would have been expected. It found that scores of patients had suffered neglect by being left in unsanitary conditions, that pain relief was often omitted or given late and that food and water was left out of reach. The enquiry report also discusses how nurses were untrained in the use of certain equipment and how reception staff made decisions as to who should be treated in A&E. A culture of cost cutting was said to be prioritised over that of correct care.
We are seeing more and evidence of this in the work that we do. Lack of funds equates to cutting corners and this at some stage or other results in negligent care and claims for compensation.
Royal College of Surgeons Raises Concerns Over Heart Surgery Waiting Times in Wales
A leading group of Doctors from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has written to Healthcare Inspectors to express concerns over what they term “unacceptably high mortality” in wales due to long waiting times for heart surgery. It is said that the letter also cites over 150 cases where patients have passed away whilst waiting for surgery.
This follows on from yesterday’s disclosure that the medical director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, has written to his Welsh counterpart to express concerns over the worrying death rates in Welsh hospitals. Sir Bruce points to 6 hospitals in particular which he describes as having a ‘persistently high mortality rate worthy of investigation’. 40% of patients in Wales will end up waiting at least 6 weeks for things like ultrasound scan results whilst in England less than 1% will wait for that amount of time.
An immediate enquiry into Welsh hospital mortality rates has been called for by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew Davies. Whilst some members of the Welsh Government are dismissing Mr Davies as having ‘more concern over elections than patient safety’ in his request for this enquiry, an NHS data analysis which found that waiting lists were ‘clinically inappropriate’ and posed ‘significant risks’ is much more difficult to argue with.
A spokesperson from the Healthcare Inspectorate for Wales said that they had met with RCS and that they would consider all reports made by the two NHS working parties who are currently examining the issue.
The knock on effect of this in terms of negligence claims could be significant where delays lead to fatalities which could otherwise be avoided.