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NHS : Privatisation Issues And Related News : Failings / Scandals / Rip Offs / Continuing Meltdown - Page 20 - Carers UK Forum

NHS : Privatisation Issues And Related News : Failings / Scandals / Rip Offs / Continuing Meltdown

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
237 posts
Free NHS hospital parking for thousands in " Greatest need. "

Thousands more NHS patients and visitors will be able to access free hospital car parking, the government says.


From April, all 206 hospital trusts in England will be expected to begin offering the concession in line with the government's manifesto promise.

Those with the "greatest need" will benefit.

That includes groups such as people with disabilities and NHS staff working night shifts.

Currently, hourly charges at hospitals for parking vary between £1 and £4. It is up to trusts to make their own car parking arrangements.

NHS hospital car parking fees were abolished in Scotland and Wales in 2008, although a small number of hospitals in Scotland still charge as they remain tied in to contracts with private companies that manage their parking facilities. Fees may be charged in Northern Ireland.

Who will get free parking ?

Blue badge holders.

Frequent outpatients who have to attend regular appointments to manage long-term conditions,

Free parking will also be offered at specific times of the day to certain groups, including parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shifts.

How much of a difference will it make ?


The government says the change will make the NHS as accessible as possible for those who need it most and have little choice but to travel by car - without congesting car parks.

But it is not clear how many people will directly benefit.

Many hospitals already offer concessions - free or reduced charges or caps - for visitors that would fall into the "greatest need" category, as per existing guidelines.

The guidelines also recommend that any charges are "reasonable for the area" to keep fees in check, while deterring people, such as commuters, who do not have legitimate reasons for parking.

The government says many hospitals have ignored the guidance issued in 2015 and are charging the protected groups.

Might hospitals lose out ?


The government has said that no NHS trust will be left with less money because of the change.

Last year, hospital trusts in England made more than £254m from car parking charges, and a further £1.5m from parking fines, according to data from Freedom of Information requests.

The Conservative Party has said £78m per year will be provided, which it says is new funding for extra parking capacity, or compensation for lost fees.

The Patients Association says hospital parking should be free, calling the fees "a charge on people who are unwell".

The British Parking Association supports concessions for vulnerable groups, but does not believe that all hospital car parking should be free.

NHS Providers, which represents health managers, has also defended parking charges, saying fees can be used to ensure parking facilities are maintained, lit well, and secure, with any surplus reinvested back into wider services for patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are today delivering on our manifesto commitment and setting out our new approach to NHS hospital parking charges."
Free NHS hospital parking for thousands in " Greatest need. "

Thousands more NHS patients and visitors will be able to access free hospital car parking, the government says.



From April, all 206 hospital trusts in England will be expected to begin offering the concession in line with the government's manifesto promise.

Those with the "greatest need" will benefit.

That includes groups such as people with disabilities and NHS staff working night shifts.

Currently, hourly charges at hospitals for parking vary between £1 and £4. It is up to trusts to make their own car parking arrangements.

NHS hospital car parking fees were abolished in Scotland and Wales in 2008, although a small number of hospitals in Scotland still charge as they remain tied in to contracts with private companies that manage their parking facilities. Fees may be charged in Northern Ireland.

Who will get free parking ?

Blue badge holders.

Frequent outpatients who have to attend regular appointments to manage long-term conditions,

Free parking will also be offered at specific times of the day to certain groups, including parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shifts.


How much of a difference will it make ?


The government says the change will make the NHS as accessible as possible for those who need it most and have little choice but to travel by car - without congesting car parks.

But it is not clear how many people will directly benefit.

Many hospitals already offer concessions - free or reduced charges or caps - for visitors that would fall into the "greatest need" category, as per existing guidelines.

The guidelines also recommend that any charges are "reasonable for the area" to keep fees in check, while deterring people, such as commuters, who do not have legitimate reasons for parking.

The government says many hospitals have ignored the guidance issued in 2015 and are charging the protected groups.

Might hospitals lose out ?


The government has said that no NHS trust will be left with less money because of the change.

Last year, hospital trusts in England made more than £254m from car parking charges, and a further £1.5m from parking fines, according to data from Freedom of Information requests.

The Conservative Party has said £78m per year will be provided, which it says is new funding for extra parking capacity, or compensation for lost fees.

The Patients Association says hospital parking should be free, calling the fees "a charge on people who are unwell".

The British Parking Association supports concessions for vulnerable groups, but does not believe that all hospital car parking should be free.

NHS Providers, which represents health managers, has also defended parking charges, saying fees can be used to ensure parking facilities are maintained, lit well, and secure, with any surplus reinvested back into wider services for patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are today delivering on our manifesto commitment and setting out our new approach to NHS hospital parking charges."
" Breaking point " : fears over lack of intensive care beds for children.

Exclusive: critically ill children rushed to units across England as NHS struggles to find beds.



Critically ill children are being rushed from one part of England to another because NHS hospitals are running short of intensive care beds in which to treat them, the Guardian can reveal.

An increase in severe breathing problems in children driven by winter viruses and infections, including flu, means some are having to be transferred sometimes many miles from their home area because there are not enough paediatric intensive care (PICU) beds locally.

Specialist doctors who staff the units say the situation is “dangerous and rotten for the families” involved and that staff are firefighting to handle the number of children needing sometimes life-saving care, many of whom are on a ventilator to help them breathe.

In the past few weeks, young patients have been sent from the Midlands to Sheffield, from London to Cambridge, and from one side of the Pennines to the other in order to get them a place in a PICU.

One doctor at a PICU in the Midlands said: “PICU beds are always in high demand. But since winter hit this year, around six weeks ago, the situation feels like we are simply firefighting. Many days I come on shift to find there are no beds in [our] region and the patients referred to us end up in Southampton, Sheffield, Oxford and other centres far away.

“The PICU network is overstretched. There aren’t enough beds, nurses or skilled doctors.”

A PICU doctor in London said: “This winter has so far been mild and yet pressure on beds from children with respiratory disease or respiratory vulnerability seems recognisably worse than previous years.

“We have no beds to accept patients with invasive pneumonia who need surgical resource, and we are stepping children down from intensive care to the main wards earlier than we would like to make way for the relentless influx of newer, sicker patients. The system is at breaking point.”

A consultant at another major London hospital said: “At one point over a weekend in December there were 11 intubated newborns or babies awaiting PICU beds, with none available anywhere. One of our patients went to Cambridge and another two were transferred out of London too. [This is] dangerous and rotten for the families.”

Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge said on 23 December: “So far this month we have been able to accommodate 32 transfers into our paediatric intensive care unit and paediatric high dependency units, of which four would normally go to London hospitals.”

A message sent between PICU doctors in the capital on 17 December said: “There are no PICU beds in London and three ventilated patients awaiting a bed across London.”

Another message shared by PICU doctors on 20 December, seeking a bed for a child at Whipps Cross hospital in London with bronchiolitis, showed that there were no beds at St George’s or King’s College hospitals in south London or in the NHS’s entire North Thames region, which covers east, central and north London and Cambridge.
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Dr Peter-Marc Fortune, the president of the Paediatric Intensive Care Society, confirmed that early winter circulation of bugs was leading to children being transferred.

“At this time of year things are always very, very busy. We run right at the edge of capacity every year. Everyone feels very buried and that they are working to their limit,” he said.

Dr Julia Patterson, a spokeswoman for EveryDoctor, a network of grassroots NHS doctors, said: “Paediatric intensive care exists to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society. After nine years of planned NHS austerity cuts by the government, it is not surprising that the end-point is a lack of safe care for the most vulnerable. But it is a situation which is utterly shocking and totally unacceptable to the UK doctors at the frontline, caring for these patients every day, and we are therefore moved to speak up.

“This situation is being allowed to happen by politicians who have the power to inject emergency funds and turn the situation around. Sick children’s lives are at risk. How can we call ourselves a civilised society when our children’s lives are being wantonly placed at risk?”

Disclosure of the acute shortages of PICU beds comes after intensive care doctors said that pressure on beds in the units where they work is worse than official NHS figures show.

In an unusual move, the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) raised concerns about the accuracy of official NHS “sitreps” data. The figures, published weekly by NHS England during winter, detail bed occupancy across the country in intensive care units for adults, paediatric intensive care units for children and neonatal intensive care units for newborns.

The most recent data, showing that units in England had been on average 83% full so far this winter, were deceptive and underestimated the true extent of the pressures being felt, the FICM said.

Dr Alison Pittard, the FICM’s dean, told the Health Service Journal that many units had been 100% full in December and that its members were concerned that one in four hospitals “did not recognise their unit’s sitreps data”. NHS England did not respond in detail to the claims but said the figures were submitted by hospitals themselves.
The Guardian view on nurses: restoring grants is not enough
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It emerged last month that the number of hospital beds available in England has fallen to its lowest ever level because 17,230 beds have been cut since 2010. Many hospitals have opened extra beds to help them cope this winter.

In other evidence of the mounting pressures winter is putting on NHS services :

The Countess of Chester hospital in Chester has installed three portable buildings in its grounds and is using them as temporary “modular wards” to give it extra capacity to treat patients.

Leicester Royal Infirmary has opened a nine-bed “interim ambulance handover facility” in a portable building in which patients who are not seriously ill are looked after rather than having to stay with East Midlands ambulance service personnel until A&E staff can accept them.

In an unusual move, the East of England ambulance service recently asked its staff if they would work in the A&E units of hospitals in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Gorleston.

The Guardian revealed recently that the Norwich and Norfolk hospital in Norwich had come under such strain that doctors had been told to use “the least unsafe option” when treating patients. It later said the “hastily worded email” was sent when it was “under extreme pressure”.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Seasonal increases in respiratory illness and other conditions mean there is often higher demand for paediatric intensive care during the Christmas and winter period and as the NHS responds to this extra demand, it is regular practice for local services to work together to provide safe, appropriate and timely care to families.”
" Breaking point " : fears over lack of intensive care beds for children.

Exclusive: critically ill children rushed to units across England as NHS struggles to find beds.



Critically ill children are being rushed from one part of England to another because NHS hospitals are running short of intensive care beds in which to treat them, the Guardian can reveal.

An increase in severe breathing problems in children driven by winter viruses and infections, including flu, means some are having to be transferred sometimes many miles from their home area because there are not enough paediatric intensive care (PICU) beds locally.

Specialist doctors who staff the units say the situation is “dangerous and rotten for the families” involved and that staff are firefighting to handle the number of children needing sometimes life-saving care, many of whom are on a ventilator to help them breathe.

In the past few weeks, young patients have been sent from the Midlands to Sheffield, from London to Cambridge, and from one side of the Pennines to the other in order to get them a place in a PICU.

One doctor at a PICU in the Midlands said: “PICU beds are always in high demand. But since winter hit this year, around six weeks ago, the situation feels like we are simply firefighting. Many days I come on shift to find there are no beds in [our] region and the patients referred to us end up in Southampton, Sheffield, Oxford and other centres far away.

“The PICU network is overstretched. There aren’t enough beds, nurses or skilled doctors.”

A PICU doctor in London said: “This winter has so far been mild and yet pressure on beds from children with respiratory disease or respiratory vulnerability seems recognisably worse than previous years.

“We have no beds to accept patients with invasive pneumonia who need surgical resource, and we are stepping children down from intensive care to the main wards earlier than we would like to make way for the relentless influx of newer, sicker patients. The system is at breaking point.”

A consultant at another major London hospital said: “At one point over a weekend in December there were 11 intubated newborns or babies awaiting PICU beds, with none available anywhere. One of our patients went to Cambridge and another two were transferred out of London too. [This is] dangerous and rotten for the families.”

Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge said on 23 December: “So far this month we have been able to accommodate 32 transfers into our paediatric intensive care unit and paediatric high dependency units, of which four would normally go to London hospitals.”

A message sent between PICU doctors in the capital on 17 December said: “There are no PICU beds in London and three ventilated patients awaiting a bed across London.”

Another message shared by PICU doctors on 20 December, seeking a bed for a child at Whipps Cross hospital in London with bronchiolitis, showed that there were no beds at St George’s or King’s College hospitals in south London or in the NHS’s entire North Thames region, which covers east, central and north London and Cambridge.

Dr Peter-Marc Fortune, the president of the Paediatric Intensive Care Society, confirmed that early winter circulation of bugs was leading to children being transferred.

“At this time of year things are always very, very busy. We run right at the edge of capacity every year. Everyone feels very buried and that they are working to their limit,” he said.

Dr Julia Patterson, a spokeswoman for EveryDoctor, a network of grassroots NHS doctors, said: “Paediatric intensive care exists to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society. After nine years of planned NHS austerity cuts by the government, it is not surprising that the end-point is a lack of safe care for the most vulnerable. But it is a situation which is utterly shocking and totally unacceptable to the UK doctors at the frontline, caring for these patients every day, and we are therefore moved to speak up.

“This situation is being allowed to happen by politicians who have the power to inject emergency funds and turn the situation around. Sick children’s lives are at risk. How can we call ourselves a civilised society when our children’s lives are being wantonly placed at risk?”

Disclosure of the acute shortages of PICU beds comes after intensive care doctors said that pressure on beds in the units where they work is worse than official NHS figures show.

In an unusual move, the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) raised concerns about the accuracy of official NHS “sitreps” data. The figures, published weekly by NHS England during winter, detail bed occupancy across the country in intensive care units for adults, paediatric intensive care units for children and neonatal intensive care units for newborns.

The most recent data, showing that units in England had been on average 83% full so far this winter, were deceptive and underestimated the true extent of the pressures being felt, the FICM said.

Dr Alison Pittard, the FICM’s dean, told the Health Service Journal that many units had been 100% full in December and that its members were concerned that one in four hospitals “did not recognise their unit’s sitreps data”. NHS England did not respond in detail to the claims but said the figures were submitted by hospitals themselves.

It emerged last month that the number of hospital beds available in England has fallen to its lowest ever level because 17,230 beds have been cut since 2010. Many hospitals have opened extra beds to help them cope this winter.

In other evidence of the mounting pressures winter is putting on NHS services :

The Countess of Chester hospital in Chester has installed three portable buildings in its grounds and is using them as temporary “modular wards” to give it extra capacity to treat patients.

Leicester Royal Infirmary has opened a nine-bed “interim ambulance handover facility” in a portable building in which patients who are not seriously ill are looked after rather than having to stay with East Midlands ambulance service personnel until A&E staff can accept them.

In an unusual move, the East of England ambulance service recently asked its staff if they would work in the A&E units of hospitals in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Gorleston.

The Guardian revealed recently that the Norwich and Norfolk hospital in Norwich had come under such strain that doctors had been told to use “the least unsafe option” when treating patients. It later said the “hastily worded email” was sent when it was “under extreme pressure”.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Seasonal increases in respiratory illness and other conditions mean there is often higher demand for paediatric intensive care during the Christmas and winter period and as the NHS responds to this extra demand, it is regular practice for local services to work together to provide safe, appropriate and timely care to families.”
Another case of a disjointed health service ... instead of all services being under one roof ???


More cancer patients turning away from NHS for advice – Macmillan.

Cancer charity expands helpline as patients find NHS staff too " Rushed off their feet. "




Growing numbers of people with cancer are seeking advice from Macmillan Cancer Support because overstretched NHS staff are too busy to answer their questions, the charity says.

Patients are having to call its helpline for information and guidance instead of asking doctors and nurses in cancer services, who are often too “rushed off their feet” to have the time needed.

Some people are already “at breaking point” by the time they call because they are suffering from anxiety, fear and depression over their diagnosis and what their future holds.

“Every day people call our support line because their world has been turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis. Whatever the concern – fear about impending test results, anxiety about how they will tell their children or what their scan outcome means – they just need someone to listen and help them make sense of it all,” said Ellen Lang, a service manager on Macmillan’s support line.

“When you only have 10 minutes with your doctor and your nurses are visibly rushed off their feet it’s inevitable that you’ll leave without all the answers you need. This is something we’re hearing from people more often now.

“We are able to offer that listening ear and support to those who need it – something we know NHS staff would like to do much more of but just don’t always have the time any more.”

By 19 December the charity’s helpline had already helped 65,912 people who between them made 241,234 inquiries. That is up on the 61,701 people it helped in the same period last year and the 58,055 and 55,622 it helped in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

The number of people needing emotional support – with anxiety, depression and fear – has risen by 20% in the last year alone, to 8,011. That is the commonest reason for calling and more than those seeking help with issues related to the side-effects of treatment (2,254), pain (882) and tests (1,297).

Demand for its advice has prompted Macmillan to expand its helpline service, which usually operates from 8am to 8pm. It is staffed by cancer information nurses and advisers, financial guides, welfare-rights advisers, a work-support team and energy-advice specialists.

Staff say that many people who call do so in distress at not having had the time to process information about their condition and prognosis when talking to doctors and nurses.

The charity said the growing number of people both being referred for investigation of suspected cancer and diagnosed with the disease is adding to the pressures on NHS cancer staff.

Lynda Thomas, the charity’s chief executive, said: “It’s heartrending that so many people call at breaking point, having struggled to find the support they need from their healthcare team who we know are run ragged and doing the best they can.

“NHS staff do an extraordinary job faced with huge pressures. But as increased demand for our services shows there simply aren’t enough of them to meet the needs of the growing number of people living with cancer.”

NHS England did not respond directly to Macmillan’s findings and instead stressed that cancer patients’ experience was improving in other ways, as is how long they live after diagnosis.

In a statement, an NHS spokesperson said: “Most importantly cancer survival is at a record high, and so too patients’ satisfaction with their care, with nine out of 10 patients happy with the support they’ve received, all of which is testament to the hard work and compassion of NHS staff.

“This progress has come despite more people than ever getting checked for cancer, with 2.2 million getting tested last year. Our NHS Long Term Plan will ensure that by 2021 every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care plans, including a needs assessment and health and wellbeing support.”



#####################################################################################################


Record numbers of NHS cancer patients face " Agonising wait " to see specialist.


In April alone nearly 20,000 people missed the 14-day target to meet with an oncologist'


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... specialist
Nurse shortage forces NHS hospital to shut critical-care beds.

Decision taken at Norwich high dependency unit despite increased winter pressure.



An NHS hospital in Norwich has had to close four beds in its high dependency unit because it does not have enough nurses to staff them.

Norfolk and Norwich university hospital (NNUH) decided on Monday to temporarily shut the beds in the Gissing ward of its critical care complex.


The beds, which are used for seriously ill patients, have been shut despite flu and other viruses that circulate at this time of year leaving more patients than usual suffering from breathing problems.

Hospital managers told doctors in an email that: “A decision has been made to temporarily close our GHDU beds and reduce to 20 bed capacity on our CCC [critical care complex] from today as the nursing staffing is insufficient to keep Gissing open.”

A spokesman for the Norwich hospital confirmed later: “We have temporarily reduced the number of high dependency beds at NNUH from 24 to 20 in order to maintain national intensive care staffing standards. During this time the HDU area on Gissing ward will be repurposed for general surgical patients. We are actively recruiting specialist staff to reopen those four beds for HDU as soon as possible.”

The closure is another stark illustration of both the lack of staff in the NHS, which in England has around 100,000 vacancies, and the extra strain winter is putting on hospitals.

The Norfolk and Norwich has come under particular pressure in recent weeks. The Guardian recently disclosed that it was so overwhelmed by demand that it had told senior doctors to make “the least unsafe decision” when treating patients.

NHS bosses warned recently that staff shortages were now so widespread that patients’ safety and quality of care are under threat.

Derriford hospital in Plymouth has also come under intense pressure in a winter that has seen more cases than usual of both flu and norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

It told staff on Monday that the sheer weight of demand for care meant it had started the day “at 104% [bed] occupancy” and on “black alert” – an official admission by an NHS trust that it is struggling to cope.

It added: “We recognise teams are stretched with outliers and appreciate the efforts needed to ensure ward rounds go ahead as soon as possible.”

Dr Sue Crossland, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said lack of social care support over the festive season was partly to blame for the “extreme stress on the system”.

“Every acute trust I know is suffering with overwhelming demand for beds, which are all full. This is putting pressure on emergency departments, which are getting towards standstill, and acute medical units, which are trying to help absorb the flow into hospital.

“The demand for admission is overwhelming and there is so little movement due to social care being less accessible over the extended holiday period. Patients are sick, lots are requiring admission but beds are full with both sick and waiting for social care patients,” Crossland said.

Dr Julia Patterson, the lead for EveryDoctor, an organisation of grassroots doctors, said: “It is absolutely appalling that adult high dependency unit beds are being closed in an NHS hospital due to unsafe staffing levels. These beds are used by patients requiring a high level of care from skilled professionals. These patients now won’t receive that specialised care, and they will suffer for it.

“The current situation – hospitals on black alert up and down the country, cancelled cancer operations, closed HDU beds – highlights that the government’s NHS austerity cuts have gone too far, and patients’ lives are now at risk because NHS trusts do not have the resources to care safely for patients”.

In a message, managers at Southend hospital thanked staff for their hard work over Christmas but added that: “Not surprisingly [we] have tipped into [an] internal critical [incident] this morning” because of the large number of patients it had decided to admit but did not have a bed for.”

One doctor at Southend, who asked not to be named, said: “The situation in A&E is unsafe every day due to there being nowhere for patients waiting for a hospital bed. This results in nowhere to see new patients, including at times the inability to receive blue [light] emergency calls into the resuscitation room.”


Hospitals have taken steps to prepare for winter, including opening “escalation” or overflow wards in which to look after patients, paying for some patients who are nearing discharge to be moved to a care home and installing temporary portable wards in their grounds.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Hospitals have more beds open than this time last year, but flu and norovirus are adding pressure at a time when the NHS is already looking after significantly more people than ever before. The NHS has already looked after a million more people in A&E this year compared to last, and at this particularly busy time it’s really important that the public help our hardworking staff by getting their flu vaccine now, using the free NHS 111 phone and online service for urgent medical needs, and seeing their local pharmacist for minor ailments before they get worse.”
Some of the facts in the following article couldn't be made up ... could they ???

Just how many £ BILLIONS have been wasted on trying to computerise the NHS ... and all it's arms ???

Social Care ... still NOT part of the same IT system !!!



NHS gets £40 million to cut login times on its IT systems.

Switch to single sign-on system at one hospital alone saved 130 staffing hours a day.



The NHS is to receive £40m in funding to try to cut login times on IT systems across the health service – a move the government says could free up thousands of staffing hours a day as the saved seconds add up.

In a typical hospital, staff need to log in to as many as 15 systems when tending to a patient. As well as taking up time, the proliferation of logins requires staff either to remember multiple complex passwords or, more likely, compromise security by reusing the same one on every system.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “It is frankly ridiculous how much time our doctors and nurses waste logging on to multiple systems. As I visit hospitals and GP practices around the country, I’ve lost count of the amount of times staff complain about this. It’s no good in the 21st century having 20th-century technology at work.

“This investment is committed to driving forward the most basic frontline technology upgrades, so treatment can be delivered more effectively and we can keep pace with the growing demand on the NHS.”

The investment will support projects similar to one at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, where a single sign-on system was built and deployed, reducing time spent logging into systems from 105 seconds to just 10. At that one hospital alone, the reduction in login time saved more than 130 hours a day, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.


“I want to harness the best digital technology to improve care for patients and ease the burden on our staff. And to do that, we need to get the basics right,” Hancock said. “Too often, outdated technology slows down and frustrates staff and prevents them from giving patients their full attention and the care they deserve.”

As well as the login project, DHSC is providing £4.5m to local authorities to fund digital programs aimed at aiding independent living for recipients of adult social care. The money could, for instance, fund AI-powered monitoring, allowing carers to be alerted only when people’s normal routines are disrupted, the department suggested.



On some manors , a pony express rider ... even a carrier pigeon ... would get vital information faster between two arms of the NHS ?

There again , pony express rider ... insured against pot holes ???

Image

Image

( " Oi ! I said WEST ... not EAST ! " )
Hospital in bullying claims did not monitor at-risk patients.

West Suffolk NHS trust failed to heed warning over patients with aneurysms, raising questions about management.



A hospital accused of bullying its staff is facing new claims that it failed to act on a leading doctor’s warning about a potentially fatal failure to monitor vulnerable patients, the Guardian can reveal.

Dr Jonathan Boyle, the UK’s top vascular surgeon, had warned West Suffolk NHS trust, the health secretary Matt Hancock’s local hospital, that patients at risk of dying from burst aneurysms were not being safely monitored. An IT glitch meant that patients were not followed up to see how soon they would need potentially life-saving surgery.

A doctor at the trust, however, says it initially repeatedly refused to take any action, raising further questions about its management.

The trust initially suggested the problem was the result of senior doctors not keeping up with emails, but later accepted its IT systems were at fault. The hospital was forced to recognise that patients were potentially put at risk and took action only after a whistleblower alerted the NHS regulator.

The Bury St Edmunds hospital is already at the centre of claims of bullying and intimidation after it demanded medical staff take fingerprint tests in an effort to identify a whistleblower who raised the alarm about potentially botched surgery with the family of a patient who died under its care.

It has offered a partial apology to staff and agreed to reflect on its tactics after the Guardian revealed its extraordinary response to an anonymous letter a member of staff sent to the patient’s widow.

Responding to the new claims, the hospital acknowledged problems had occurred with its vascular surgery services and confirmed that an investigation was under way, but insisted that no patients had been harmed.

The issue involves the handling of scans for patients with aneurysms which are conducted to detect signs of growth in case surgery is required to prevent a life-threatening rupture. Under the hospital’s eCare system those scans were automatically deleted after 90 days. The hospital’s email system failed to alert doctors that they needed to check the scans before they disappeared from the system.

Regular monitoring of these patients is vital because consultants need to know whether an aneurysm has reached 5cm in diameter, at which point they require an operation before the swollen blood vessels bursts.

Boyle, who is based at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, but also works at West Suffolk, was so concerned about patients not being followed up that he made entries on Datix, the NHS-wide system for flagging up patient safety incidents.

Boyle, the associate editor of the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, did not respond to the Guardian after calls for comment. But a colleague and someone familiar with the issues both said Boyle made several Datix incidents reports about the problem.

His reports were dismissed, however, with a note saying that “no further action” was needed by the hospital’s head of eCare system, Dr Dermot O’Riordan, who previously served as the trust’s medical director and its interim chief executive.

Boyle was so alarmed by this failure to follow up his concerns that he reported the problem to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects and rates hospitals, including on the safety of their care.

O’Riordan has not responded to a request to comment.

The unnamed doctor told the Guardian that the problem typified how the trust sought to bury any signs of failure. “The trust knew what happened and didn’t act,” he said. The trust’s chief executive, Stephen Dunn, was awarded a CBE last year for services to health and patient safety.

Following Boyle’s intervention, the CQC asked the trust to explain its action both before and during its inspection visits in September and October. The trust is expected to lose its “outstanding” rating when the commission reports this month. The regulator has already said its maternity services need significant improvement.

“The reporting system used by the NHS is an important protection for patients, but only if it works properly and is acted upon. Delays in monitoring patients with aneurysms is a serious matter, potentially a life and death matter,” said Peter Walsh, the chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, a patient safety charity.

“It is very surprising that this was not acted upon and even more so if the doctor reporting concerns is senior. If patient safety is given the priority it deserves in a trust it should not need the CQC to intervene, but on behalf of the patients I am glad they did.”

A CQC spokeswoman said: “We were made aware of concerns regarding the handling of information submitted via the trusts’ Datix incident reporting system. These concerns were followed up directly with the trust prior to and during CQC’s latest inspection.”

A spokeswoman for West Suffolk NHS foundation trust said: “Regrettably, we identified an issue with our vascular surgery services and an investigation is under way. All affected patients have been identified, are receiving the appropriate treatment and there is currently no evidence that patients have been harmed.”

It pointed out that when it realised the problem might affect patients it recorded the potential problem on its risk register. It also introduced a new policy to ensure that doctors act on patients’ results, including scans, within 28 days.

After the Guardian revealed the unprecedented lengths to which the hospital had gone to identify whistleblowers last month, it appeared to acknowledge that it may have gone too far.

In a statement on its website after the story was published, it said: “We asked staff who were involved in the investigation to provide handwriting and fingerprint examples in order to immediately rule themselves out of the investigation. Staff were asked to provide these, and were not threatened with disciplinary action if they chose not to do so.

“However, we know that for some colleagues involved that it did not necessarily feel that way and that this was a very difficult and stressful situation for them, for which we are sorry.”

It stopped short of acknowledging that the tactics were wrong, but added: “Knowing the impact it has had on staff involved, we will continue to reflect on as an organisation on our approach.”
Hywel Dda : NHS operations cancelled for third day in a row.


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Operations were cancelled at ( Clockwise from top left ) : Withybush, Prince Philip, Bronglais, and Glangwili hospitals.


Routine operations at four hospitals are set to be cancelled for the third consecutive day due to issues over winter pressures.

Sion James, the deputy medical director of Hywel Dda University Health Board, said operations would again be called off on Wednesday.

Planned inpatient surgery is affected at Bronglais, Prince Philip, Glangwili and Withybush hospitals in west Wales.

The health board said it would contact patients whose ops were cancelled.

Mr James said: "It looks likely there will be more postponements. We are still holding outpatient appointments. We are still doing emergency procedures and some on the day but more procedures will be postponed after today.

"We'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to patients that have been affected. This was the only option left for us. Patient safety is the most important thing for us.

"There's been a number of challenges across the health board. We've had the norovirus breakout, the flu breakout and it means there's more people in our hospitals. Our hospitals are full."

Dr Phil Banfield, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) Welsh consultants committee, said the organisation is meeting with the Welsh Government on Wednesday and will discuss winter pressures.

He said: "There isn't one person to blame for this - this is an issue within the system.

"There are two factors here - there's the lost operations, people having elective surgery who may become worse and become emergencies as a result.

"We're hearing reports of cancer surgery now being cancelled as well throughout different hospitals in Wales.

"But also the reason why the operations are being cancelled is because surgical beds are full of medical patients, now that puts the wrong type of patient in the wrong hospital bed at the wrong time and they're clearly not getting the care that they should do.

"If we think this is distressing for the staff, having to watch this, this is hugely distressing for families and patients who are on the end of these cancellations and we need to find that capacity immediately."

The Welsh Government said it had given £30m to health boards to provide extra capacity this winter.

Helen Howson, the director of the Bevan Commission, a think-tank which provides advice to the health minister, said there were "increased demands on the system".

"What we have to do is to make sure that the system that we have in Wales both the health and care system is sustainable for the future, and that will sometimes will require us looking at things differently and addressing things in different ways.," she added.

"That will need people to change and for the public to work with us to be part of finding some of those solutions."

The British Medical Association in Wales said on Tuesday it was concerned lives could be needlessly lost unless there was urgent action to tackle winter pressures.

Meanwhile, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the system "has proved resilient" to pressures in the past two weeks "because of the plans put in place by the health boards, supported by the Welsh Government and that additional investment we have put in place".
Yorkshire hospitals face £700 million bill to deal with backlog of repairs.



Official figures show more than £50m is needed for immediate high-risk problems to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to hospital services, or tackle safety concerns, with an additional £300m required for serious risks.

Hospital chiefs are calling on Ministers to commit to long-term investment in the wake of sweeping cuts to capital spending in the last decade as funding was diverted to prop up NHS finances which have plunged deep into the red.

Latest figures reveal the highest bill in Yorkshire for high and serious risk backlog repairs stands at more than £54m on ageing buildings at Doncaster Royal Infirmary - prompting a recent warning from its leaders the position “is not sustainable” in the long term.

Hull Royal Infirmary requires work put at £39m to deal with similar risks principally in its main tower block built half a century ago.

Hospitals in Grimsby and Scunthorpe need combined investment worth £19m in the face of a long-running financial crisis which is predicted to leave them still tens of millions of pounds in deficit even in 2024.

The highest single hospital bill for all backlog repairs stands at £72m at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, although some of this will be met in plans for a major reconfiguration of services in the area.

In Leeds and Sheffield, the overall cost of all repair work at main hospitals in each city runs to more than £100m.

Ministers unveiled a new health infrastructure plan three months ago including approval of £600m for two new hospitals on the Leeds General Infirmary site but this failed to set out funding for backlog maintenance.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said piecemeal announcements would not address the scale of the challenge.

Long-term investment was needed to meet growing demand and the future needs of patients amid an NHS backlog maintenance bill of £6.5 billion in England, around half of which was safety critical, and a 25 per cent rise in incidents linked to failing infrastructure last year.

“The NHS estate and facilities must be fixed and repaired urgently,” he said.

“Crumbling buildings and broken boilers impact patient safety and experience.

“Trusts have also been unable to access sufficient levels of capital funding to make necessary investments in their buildings, equipment and technology.

“We are continuing to call on the new government to commit to a multi-year capital settlement that brings the NHS capital budget in line with comparable economies and meets all needs, not just building hospitals.”


Kirsty Edmondson Jones, director of estates and facilities at Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS trust, said it was carrying out “substantial” work to its women’s and children’s hospital and operating theatres in Doncaster under plans to spend £20m on maintenance in 2019-20 “to ensure the operation of patient services”.

Jug Johal, director of estates and facilities at the neighbouring Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS trust, said the age and condition of some of its buildings “posed a significant challenge”, particularly in the light of its financial position, but capital investment had been secured for diagnostic and urgent and emergency care improvements.

“We are working hard to secure further funding so we can do more to improve facilities for patients across all three of our hospitals,” he added.

Officials at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said backlog maintenance was prioritised according to available finance, with problems affecting its ability to deliver services being escalated.

Hospital chiefs in Leeds said the go-ahead for redevelopment at the city’s infirmary, due to be completed in 2025, would reduce its infrastructure backlog of £109m by nearly half.

“This demonstrates that significant inroads will be made into our capital backlog over the next five years to benefit both patients and staff,” said a spokesman.
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