Gill Edwards, Sir Bruce Keogh’s report due out on 16th July
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I await the publication of the Keogh report due out tomorrow which follows the Keogh Mortality Review commissioned by the government on 6th February 2013 to look into the quality of care and treatment at 14 hospital trusts across the country.
Many families we act for have suffered injury as a result of poor care at the hospitals involved. I suspect the 14 trusts may already know the content of the report, but whether they do or not, they will not doubt be awaiting its publication with some dread. Some newspaper headlines are already referring to them as “the deadliest” hospitals because the trusts were picked out predominantly due to their comparatively high death rates, but there were other markers which indicated that the care at the trusts had fallen below acceptable levels, which I address in more detail below.
The 14 hospital trusts which have been reviewed are:
- Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
- Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust
- The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
- East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
- George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
- Medway NHS Foundation Trust
- North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; and
- United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
We have 140 cases against the trusts involved. Whilst the media is focussing on the number of deaths within the trusts, we should not forget that many cases of poor treatment and negligence do not appear in the death statistics. Patients can suffer serious injury, very often life-changing, as a result. Of course, this poor / negligent treatment has a human cost, but it also has an impact on the cost to the NHS because of the need for ongoing NHS care and treatment of the injury and/or compensation if the injury was caused by medical negligence.
The other red flags which drew attention to the 14 trusts, besides the high death rates, were the number of safety incidents reported; the number of “never events” (i.e. so bad, they should never happen such as surgical instruments being left in); the number of patients with pressure sores; the amount spent compensating negligence claims; and the number of times the Coroner has written to the trust expressing concern about standards of care leading to death.
There are common themes in the poor care that we see such as a lack of communication (including results that are simply filed away rather than acted upon); failure to seek advice from a more senior doctor about a patient’s deteriorating condition; and poor care over weekends and bank holidays because no senior staff are available or the patient has to wait until Monday for a scan.
Many people receive poor care related to their hygiene or feeding but more often than not such cases do not turn into legal cases because there has been no significant injury as a result. Nevertheless, the experience those patients have, sometimes in the last weeks or days of their life, is appalling.
I am interested to see whether the Keogh report will reflect what we see in our medical negligence case work and what Sir Bruce Keogh’s proposed solutions will be. I have expressed before my concern about untrained health care assistants taking on roles for which they have not been trained and the failure of the NHS as a whole to learn on a national level from mistakes made within individual trusts. If things are to improve, we need to focus on those hospitals that are doing it well and learn from them.
Pannone has a dedicated team of medical negligence solicitors in London and Manchester. If you are concerned that you or a family member have suffered as a result of poor treatment as a patient and would like to discuss this with one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors, please click here or contact us on 0800 0382 382.
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