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NHS ombudsman warns hospitals are cynically burying evidence of poor care

Hospitals are cynically burying evidence about poor care in a “cover-up culture” that leads to avoidable deaths, and families being denied the truth about their loved ones, the NHS ombudsman has warned.

Ministers, NHS leaders and hospital boards are doing too little to end the health service’s deeply ingrained “cover-up culture” and victimisation of staff who turn whistleblower, he added.

In an interview with the Guardian as he prepares to step down after seven years in the post, Rob Behrens claimed many parts of the NHS still put “reputation management” ahead of being open with relatives who have lost a loved one due to medical negligence.

The ombudsman for England said that although the NHS was staffed by “brilliant people” working under intense pressures, too often his investigations into patients’ complaints had revealed cover-ups, “including the altering of care plans and the disappearance of crucial documents after patients have died and robust denial in the face of documentary evidence”.

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Source: The Guardian, 17 March 2024


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