Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Review 'very difficult day for NHS'

Thousands more patients died than would have been expected at hospital trusts investigated for having high mortality rates, it has emerged.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that since 2005 there were thousands more deaths than would "normally be expected" at the 14 trusts reviewed.

The investigation, led by NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, found that none of the hospitals investigated was providing "consistently high-quality care to patients" and all 14 trusts have been ordered to act on recommendations set out by health officials.

Mr Hunt said that 11 of the trusts would be put into "special measures" for "fundamental breaches of care" and external experts will be sent in to help improve patient care. The review panel said they were forced to step in to stop patients from being harmed at some of the trusts. They identified issues that had to be "tackled immediately in order to avoid causing harm to patients".

Officials highlighted a series of failings including inadequate numbers of staff and basic safety checks not being carried out.

They said they witnessed staff so busy they were unable to deliver compassionate care to patients - indeed one of the review team described holding the hand of a patient because nurses were stretched so thin they were unable to do so.

Sir Bruce said: "This is a very difficult day for the NHS because we are laying bare some truths. On the other hand I think the transparency with which these reviews have been conducted, I hope will be a turning point for the NHS.

"We had to take immediate action in a number of areas; there were issues with unsafe shift patterns, we had to close two operating theatres because the ultra-clean air conditioning wasn't working and in one place we found a large backlog of complaints that simply weren't being dealt with."

Mr Hunt told MPs: "No statistics are perfect but mortality rates suggest that since 2005 thousands more people may have died than would normally be expected at the 14 trusts reviewed. Worryingly, in half of those trusts, the Care Quality Commission - the regulator specifically responsible for patient safety and care - failed to spot any real cause for concern, rating them as 'compliant' with basic standards."

But Sir Bruce would not be drawn on how many avoidable deaths could have occurred at the trusts - although reports suggest that there may be as many as 13,000 more deaths than expected across the 14 trusts since 2005.


From Belfast Telegraph