Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

2,500 hospital deaths 'avoidable'

Basildon Hospital in Essex is being investigated in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal

More than 500 patients have died needlessly at a hospital in the past two years with up to 2,500 avoidable deaths over the past decade, it was claimed.

Basildon Hospital in Essex is already being investigated in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal. Peter Walsh of Action for Victims of Medical Accidents told the Sunday Express: "We have had more people come to us about Basildon than any of the other 13 trusts."

Second World War veteran Fred Harris, 90, died after being treated at the hospital. His granddaughter Sharon Walsh, 47, said he was shunted between nine wards over a 12-day period while staff failed to properly treat an MRSA-infected leg wound that he developed there.

She told the paper: "With every move he got weaker and weaker. They treated him like luggage. In the end he lost the will to live, but he told us just before he died that we should complain, saying 'Don't let it happen to anyone else'."

Last November the Care Quality Commission (CQC) performed an unannounced inspection at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust following the death of a girl and a medication overdose of a baby. It is understood that the girl was treated at the trust before she was transferred to St Mary's Hospital in west London where she later died.

The CQC found that "rapid and sustainable improvement'' was needed at the trust and ordered an independent investigation into the paediatric services. Inspectors found that there were problems with waiting times, the numbers of senior staff and out-of-date medicines. They said that when some children arrived on the ward, they waited for more than an hour to see a doctor.

And earlier in the year the trust was issued a warning by the health watchdog ordering it to make improvements following inspections of the accident and emergency department and adult wards.

A spokesman for Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said of the new allegations: "Basildon University Hospital is refocusing every aspect of its work to improve the care it delivers to its patients. The Trust is sorry if any patients or families feel any aspect of care was poor and will investigate their concerns to ensure any lessons which can be learnt are."

Emma Jones of law firm Leigh Day, who represented 120 victims of abuse at Stafford Hospital, is currently investigating 10 separate allegations of abuse at Basildon Hospital. She said: "The stories we are hearing from our clients in Basildon are depressingly similar to those we heard from victims at Stafford Hospital and the 20 hospitals from around the UK at which we are currently investigating allegations of abuse.

"There does appear to be a significant issue at Basildon Hospital based on the number of inquiries we have received. We are working hard with our clients and those groups committed to patient safety to ensure these allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated."