MP demands answers over hospital deaths
Last updated at 20:30, Thursday, 22 March 2012
Workington MP Tony Cunningham is demanding answers after it was revealed that seven people died in north Cumbria’s main hospitals after falls or blunders.
Leaked documents showed that four patients died after falls at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary over a seven-week period from September to October last year.
Three others died in what have been labelled high-level or serious untoward incidents.
It is not known when they died.
The details were revealed in documents leaked to BBC Radio Cumbria.
One patient who died had been monitored using a telemetry machine with a flat battery. The incident was labelled high level.
Another patient left a ward and was later found dead in what has been treated as a serious untoward incident. An investigation has been launched.
A diabetic patient became unresponsive and died.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, said in response that all diabetic nurses must be trained on trust policy for management of hypoglycemia.
The leaked report also referred to a patient who was involved in a near drowning incident.
An action plan has been implemented since that serious untoward incident, said the trust.
It is not known whether the incidents happened at the West Cumberland Hospital or at the Cumberland Infirmary.
Details were also revealed about an hour-long power cut at the West Cumberland Hospital.
Electricity back-up systems and emergency lighting have been reviewed following that incident, the document said.
Mr Cunningham said he would demand answers from the trust’s chief executive about how the incidents had happened and what had been done to prevent them happening again.
He will also table questions to the Secretary of State for Health, he said.
He added: “If we are not given proper answers I’ll call for a public inquiry.
“It is extremely disturbing and worrying and we need to find answers quickly as to what’s gone wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”
Patients at the two hospitals were paid £2,087,511 in compensation for medical blunders in 2010/11.
Another £225,574 was paid for non-medical claims such as loss or theft of property on hospital grounds.
The NHS Litigation Authority said there had been 70 complaints referred to it for clinical negligence and 17 non-clinical referrals during the year.
Eight of the medical claims were for maternity matters, with £657,540 paid out.
Details released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that in September and October 2011 there were 29 falls in the two hospitals compared with nine in the same period of 2010.
Injuries ranged from fractures to bumps, grazes, cuts and bruises.
In three cases there were no visible injuries.
Eight of the 2011 falls happened at the Whitehaven hospital with the rest in Carlisle. Five of the 2010 falls were in Whitehaven.
Between January and November 2011 there were 116 falls at the hospitals, compared with 103 in the whole of 2009 and 69 in 2010.
It is not known whether the falls led to the four patients’ deaths, which are now the subject of inquests.
A trust spokeswoman said: “Overall we have not seen an increase in the number of patients falling and in fact, they are reducing year-on-year.
“However, there was a short period when there were a number of falls which concerned us and, as we take patient safety very seriously, decided these needed further investigation.”
She said everything was done to prevent falls which were always investigated thoroughly.
The trust has a falls team which work across the hospitals.
Glenn Turp, Royal College of Nursing northern regional director, said: “The RCN has been warning for many months that there are serious potential risks to patients when staffing levels and the skills mix are not right. We have also raised our concerns with the Care Quality Commission, the local NHS GP Commissioners and the strategic health authority.”
l The two hospitals have meanwhile been rated among the worst in the country by staff who work there.
Responses from staff to a national satisfaction survey ranked the hospitals in the bottom 20 per cent.
A large proportion said they would not recommend North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust as a place to work or receive treatment.
A trust spokeswoman said it was committed to working hard to improve things for staff and patients.
First published at 19:24, Thursday, 22 March 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
You don't have to look far for the answer - incompetent management and inadequate staffing levels. The Trust's own survey of it's staff delivers a damning indictment of Dr Neil Goodwin and his management team. It is totally unacceptable that we have hospitals which the staff themselves wouldn't feel safe being admitted to. Goodwin has to turn this situation around in double quick time, or he must go.
A few years ago I had to go into Whitehaven hospital for investigations. I had to be 'Nil by mouth'. As I am an insulin diabetic I had to be put on an Insulin?glucose drip.......during the night I had a serious hypo......it was discovered that I had been put on a insulin only drip!! I nearly died!....I left the next day without the investigations taking place....I will NEVER go to Whitehaven again!