Sunday, 18 January 2009

NHS safety blunders cost patients' lives

Scalding hot bath water, unsafe windows and even potholes outside a hospital have claimed the lives of NHS patients, an official dossier has revealed.

By Beezy Marsh
Last Updated: 11:47AM GMT 17 Jan 2009

Others have suffered injury due to collapsing bed rails or been exposed to dangerous bacteria including tuberculosis because of a lack of basic safeguards.

The toll of shoddy care is exposed in official details of enforcement action against the NHS by the Government's Health and Safety Executive.

The HSE, which upholds stringent standards to protect the public and the workforce, has acted against the NHS on more than 300 occasions in the past four years.

In 40 of the most serious cases, covering a 10-year period, the NHS was taken to court by the HSE and given fines totalling nearly £600,000, paid from the public purse.

The litany of avoidable fatalities and injuries includes:

*The death of a pensioner who developed serious burns after lying against a scalding hot radiator on a ward.

*Two cases, including a fatality, involving patients being put in boiling hot baths.

*The death of a hospital visitor who fell down a pothole in a hospital driveway.

*The deaths of two mental health patients who fell from hospital windows in separate incidents.

*Two further cases in which vulnerable patients suffered back and ankle injuries after falling from hospital windows which were not fitted with proper safety catches.

*A frail patient who suffered a broken hip after a bedrail collapsed.

*Patients being exposed to legionella because of poorly maintained water systems, and to live tuberculosis bacteria, after it was dropped in a laboratory with a faulty ventilation system.

The details, held on the HSE website, follow the latest data from the National Patient Safety Agency which show the number of patients killed by hospital blunders has risen by 60 per cent in just two years.

Patients' groups said there could be no excuse for such an appalling safety record in the NHS.

Katharine Murphy, director of the Patients Association, said: "It is totally unacceptable for patients to be suffering injuries or be exposed to danger simply by going into hospital.

"These poor practices should not be allowed and the blame must lie with weak management of the hospitals."

The HSE served 323 official notices to the NHS between 2004 and 2008, including 23 prohibition notices where work had to stop immediately because of the risk to life.

There were a further 39 cases which led to successful prosecutions.

These include the death of a mental health patient who fell from a window at Birch Hill Hospital in Rochdale in 2004 and the death of a vulnerable patient who fell 12 feet (3.6m) from a window at the Forth Valley Primary Care Trust in Stirlingshire in 2003.

South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust was fined £7,500 for the death of a visitor who was going home from Springfield Hospital when he fell down a deep hole in the hospital driveway, which had been caused by a vehicle uprooting a metal post.

He was taken to A&E with a fractured wrist but subsequently died in hospital after the incident in 2005.

Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge was fined £3,000 over the death of a frail pensioner who suffered fatal burns after lying next to an unguarded radiator in 1999.

In another tragic incident in the same year, a severely disabled patient at Prudhoe Hospital in Northumberland died of burns after being placed in a boiling hot bath by an inexperienced care worker.
Complete article:

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Terminally ill pensioner left in hospital bathroom for 12 hours

A terminally ill pensioner was treated in a hospital bathroom and left for 12 hours because the ward was too overcrowded, it has been revealed. These shocking pictures taken by relatives show 79-year-old Gladys Joynes lying in bed in the squalid makeshift ward in the Royal Liverpool Hospital. They have described the situation was an 'affront to human dignity'. Mrs Joynes, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease, was taken off her drip when the machine's batteries ran out. Pensioner Gladys Joynes lies in her makeshift ward in a hospital bathroom. It could not be plugged in because there were no sockets in the bathroom, which contained a foul-smelling bath, a commode and an overflowing litter bin. Staff had to place Mrs Joynes's tray of food on the floor because there was nowhere else.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Starved to death in an NHS hospital: Damning inquiry highlights case of patient left without food for 26 days

A vulnerable patient starved to death in an NHS hospital after 26 days without proper nourishment.

Martin Ryan, 43, had suffered a stroke which left him unable to swallow.

But a 'total breakdown in communication' meant he was never fitted with a feeding tube. It was one of a number of horrific cases where the NHS fatally failed patients with learning difficulties, a health watchdog is expected to rule later this month.

Complete article here

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Deaths from hospital blunders soar 60% in two years as NHS staff 'abandon quality of care to chase targets'

The number of patients killed by hospital blunders has soared by 60 per cent in just two years, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Official records show that 3,645 died as a result of outbreaks of infections, botched operations and other mistakes in 2007/08. That was up from 2,275 two years before.

Critics say quality of NHS care has suffered as doctors and nurses come under pressure to meet Government waiting time targets.

The sharp rise is also down to the fact that more trusts have started to record medical errors - revealing a death toll which in previous years remained hidden under the carpet.

But experts say the true toll is certain to be even higher, because many hospitals still do not record all of the 'patient safety incidents' - meaning that lessons which could have been learned are lost.

In October last year, the Patients Association warned that one in every 300 NHS patients were killed because of medical blunder.

The latest figures, uncovered by the Liberal Democrats, show that 385 died last year due to botched operations and 156 because scans were read wrongly or patients incorrectly diagnosed.

Full article: Mail Online

Sunday, 4 January 2009

NHS paid up to £188 an hour to agency staff

By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent
Saturday, 3 January 2009

NHS organisations have been accused of paying agency staff hugely inflated rates of pay after new figures showed one consultant anaesthetist had been paid £188 an hour, the equivalent of a £366,000 salary.

The pay rates, secured by the Conservative Party under the Freedom of Information Act, also revealed large bills for managerial staff. A senior manager at Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust (PCT) was paid £157 an hour, the equivalent of a £306,000 salary.

Wandsworth PCT paid a strategic commissioning manager £147 per hour, while an accident and emergency doctor drafted in by Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust was paid £167 an hour.

Many other agency workers were found to have been paid an hourly rate higher than that of the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, who received £220,000 last year.

The figures also revealed that some agencies take a large cut of their workers' pay, suggesting great inefficiency in temporary staffing in the NHS. Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust paid a nurse £116 per hour last year, but the worker's agency took 43 per cent of that.

The shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: "Labour's dithering and chaotic, short-term planning has let down NHS staff. Some stability for them is the least we would have expected from the billions that the Government has poured into the NHS.

"It's incredible that agency staff can be paid such high hourly rates when jobs are being cut. This is typical of the waste that's occurred under this Labour Government."

The NHS spent almost £800m on agency workers in 2006-07.

But a spokesman for the Department of Health said it was in a "good place" on spending on agency staff, having reduced the bill from 5.5 per cent of its pay budget in 2004 to 3.2 per cent last year. He added: "The NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency uses the NHS's buying power to negotiate lower pay rates with agencies."

Source: The Independent