By Simon Wilson, medical negligence expert and senior solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors
Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Secretary, has urged NHS hospitals and trusts in England to put safety first, with a new initiative aiming to halve incidences of avoidable harm to patients, and save as many as 6,000 lives over the next three years.
By Vince Shore, Senior Solicitor and Clinical Negligence manager, Leeds
A CHANNEL 4 programme which was filmed in York Hospital focussed on the financial penalties and payments affecting Accident and Emergency departments.
The Dispatches programme, A&E’s Missing Millions was filmed at the hospital during a busy period in December at the time of a norovirus outbreak. It showed the experiences of staff and patients over a 24-hour period and, revealingly, it looked at the cost and consequence of financial penalties imposed on hospitals when government targets to treat emergency cases are missed.
By Simon Wilson, medical negligence expert and senior solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors
As a Clinical negligence lawyer who every day encounters clients who’ve been let down by the NHS, the news that patients in England cannot rely on information on waiting times for non-emergency operations, such as knee and hip replacements, is not a surprise.
The findings have been published by the National Audit Office which found wrong and inconsistent recording of information after reviewing 650 cases in seven trusts. According to the BBC, the watchdog said it was unable to discern whether this was deliberate, but overall the practices concealed delays rather than over-recorded waits. The government has said the issue would be investigated.
By Simon Wilson, senior solicitor and medical negligence expert at Neil Hudgell Solicitors
A report published this week illustrates how bullying in the NHS can have a direct impact on the standard of care received by patients and ultimately, in my view, to the costs to the organisation of dealing with complaints.
The report by the Care Quality Commission into the Barts NHS Trust in London describes the overall quality of care provided by the Trust. One of the findings is that morale across the Trust is low with “a perception of a closed culture and bullying”.
By Chris Gooderidge, Senior Medical Negligence Lawyer at Neil Hudgell Solicitors.
It’s never good reading of yet more allegations of blunders at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough in Berkshire. As a lawyer, who lives in the Thames Valley and over the years has dealt with many claims for medical negligence against members of the hospital’s staff, I know at first hand the suffering and heartache endured by many patients.
The complaints we encounter are wide-ranging but clients past and present all have a common expectation: to be treated competently and with care by professionals. Instead, as revealed in this latest report by the InPractice medical consultancy, whose findings were announced by the Heatherwood and Wexham Park Trust and reported in the Daily Mail, 48 cases of “possible harm” to patients had not been properly investigated. In addition, according to the Mail, the hospital has announced checks on the death rates for its 70 surgeons.
There are a lot of headlines around at the moment involving the performance of care homes, hospitals, individual surgeons, the NHS itself and whether or not they are regulated properly. Unfortunately, behind all these headlines, are real people and families affected by treatment and care that has gone wrong.
Those people, will in all likelihood, find themselves in a situation that is distressing and unfamiliar to them and which puts them under a great deal of pressure perhaps from the health point of view and financially.
So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation?
On 12th June the health secretary announced that the closure of the Leeds heart unit and two others in Leicester and London will be suspended after it become apparent that the initial consultation process which, began in 2008 was fundamentally flawed.
The process to improve children’s heart surgery began after a public enquiry into baby deaths following paediatric surgery.
The NHS decided to reduce the number of child heart surgery units from 10 to 7 and specialise in a smaller number of centres in order to raise standards. This decision was endorsed in the safe and sustainable review which concluded that the Leeds General Infirmary, the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton Hospital should stop providing paediatric surgery.
However, this decision was met with huge resistance and campaigners fought relentlessly against the closure of the units.
The government subsequently undertook an independent review and the panel concluded that the decision by the Joint committee to close the above units was based on flawed analysis and incomplete proposals.
However, the future of the LGI is still uncertain since, the health secretary has asked NHS England to still consider plans to reorganising the services with the report due at the end of July.
Patients are waiting longer in A&E Departments than at any time for 9 years; new analysis shows. The report from The King’s Fund has indicated that a proportion of patients spend more than four hours in A&E and this has increased by more than a quarter over the last year; reaching its highest level since 2004.
The monitoring report from the King’s Fund showed that in the final quarter of 2012-2013, 5.9% of patients – 313,000 people – waited four hours or longer in A&E, the highest level since 2004.
The Telegraph says the King’s Fund figures reveal that the A&E waiting time target was breached by almost 40% of all trusts during the three month period – an increase of 50% on the previous quarter and the Independent reports that waits before being admitted from A&E into hospital of more than four hours, have also risen to almost 7%, the highest level since 2004.
John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, told the BBC there was no single explanation for the “spike” in waits, but an ongoing squeeze on the NHS budget was “one of the key reasons”. He said:
The other thing to remember is that these emergency departments are not working in isolation – they work with other parts of the hospital. If you haven’t got the beds for people flowing through then you very quickly back up into A&E.
The Health Minister, Daniel Poulter has claimed that the long waiting times in A&E in the final quarter of 2012-2013 were down to unusual factors such as bad weather and an outbreak of norovirus.
It is unclear whether the Government plan for GPs to resume out of hours responsibility will alleviate the strains on our NHS A&E Departments but until a solution is found, and with continuing budget cuts, our concern is the impact this is having on the standard of care provided within our hospitals. Unsurprisingly Neil Hudgell Solicitors continue to deal with numerous claims against Hospital Trusts following substandard treatment in our A&E Departments. We are concerned that we may see a rise in such claims in light of the recent report from the King’s Fund.
It’s traumatic enough to see a loved one in hospital particularly if they’re frail and elderly.
But it’s even more upsetting to then discover that because they’ve not received appropriate treatment, they’ve developed pressure sores – or bed sores as they’re also commonly known.
Sadly, this is an all too common occurrence.
An investigation by the BBC’s Inside Out programme recently revealed that out of 12,000 serious incidents reported across England in the NHS, more than 40% related to bed sores.
With appropriate nursing care this could be easily avoided.
Pressure sores occur because of the failure to turn patients on a regular basis to relieve pressure on areas such as the heels or sacrum. Research shows that 95% of pressure sores can be avoided through regular assessment and turning patients when required.
Some may be only small sores but others can be open wounds that can lead to serious complications which, if left untreated, can even lead to the need for plastic surgery or even amputation.
At Neil Hudgell Solicitors, we’ve a wealth of experience in dealing with compensation claims for pressure sores involving patients in hospitals and nursing and care homes.
As a specialist firm, we have vast experience of dealing with this type of claim involving patients staying in hospitals, nursing and care homes.
Because of our experience in dealing with this type of claim we know the documentation that should be within the records. These cases often turn upon the documentation and it’s important you have an expert on your side that can properly interpret and analyse those records.
A recent BBC investigation reported on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, has found that between 2009 to 2012, there have been 762 Never Events within England’s Hospitals. Never Events are defined as “serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures have been implemented”. Examples of Never Events include incidents where wrong body parts have been operated on or where foreign objects have been left inside a patient following surgery.