By Simon Wilson, medical negligence expert and senior solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors
RECENT allegations of poor care for vulnerable and elderly patients at hospitals in Grimsby and Scunthorpe – including two deaths – are quite simply shocking.
Whistle-blowers have claimed some patients were “not getting adequate food and hydration fluids over a period of days”, with medication also not being given “over a certain length of time.”
Nine of the alleged incidents were reported to have taken place at Scunthorpe General Hospital and one at Grimsby’s Diana Princess of Wales Hospital.
A “very thorough internal investigation” is now said to have been launched, with North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust – which runs the hospitals and is currently in special measures because of high mortality rates – promising to review its findings after it concludes in July.
However, talk of investigations and findings will be of little comfort to the families of elderly and vulnerable patients currently in the care of the two hospitals involved.
Particularly worrying is the fact it appears to have taken four months for some of these cases to come to light – and only after the intervention of whistle-blowers.
Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler, the CCG’s medical director, said the matter had raised “very serious concerns”, adding that “the CCG cannot reassure the community in North Lincolnshire that the services are of a safe standard.”
That in itself is a truly shocking statement.
When our relatives are taken ill, we all look to doctors and hospitals to ensure they are in the very hands. The feeling they are ‘in the best possible place” is often the only crumb of comfort when a loved one goes into a hospital for an extended period of time.
Now we are being told there is no guarantee they are even being looked after safely, and that even the most basic standards of care may not be met.
The chairman of North Lincolnshire health and wellbeing board has said the allegations should provide a “wake-up call” to those in senior management, calling for senior people to be ‘completely held to account’ should the allegations eventually be proved.
Having dealt with many similar cases of medical negligence at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, we would certainly agree with that statement.
Too often there is a reluctance across the NHS to admit its failings, and to fully scrutinise the reasons for incidents of major mistakes and poor care.
This approach will never result in issues being firmly addressed to bring about a reduction in avoidable errors, improve overall patient care and lead to major improvements in hospitals up and down the country.
At Neil Hudgell Solicitors will continue to challenge poor care in the NHS.
We believe we play a key role in not only supporting patients and their families, but also in holding heath care bodies to account.
This will hopefully bring increased transparency to the system, ensuring errors are not only highlighted, but more importantly acknowledged, accepted, and reviewed to hopefully bring about improved care across the UK in the long term.