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Found 59 results
  1. Content Article
    This blog calls for action on the careful review of established pain medication when a patient is admitted to hospital. Richard describes the experience of two elderly patients who suffered pain due to their long term medication being stopped when they were admitted to hospital. Pain control needs must not be ignored or undermined, there needs to be carer and patient involvement and their consent, and alternative pain control must be considered.
  2. News Article
    Doctors are receiving "inadequate" training about the risk of sepsis after a mother-of-five died following an abortion, a coroner has warned. Sarah Dunn, 31, died of "natural causes contributed to by neglect" in hospital on 11 April 2020, an inquest found. Assistant coroner for Blackpool and Fylde, Louise Rae, said Ms Dunn had been treated as a Covid patient even though the "signs of sepsis were apparent". Her cause of death was recorded as "streptococcus sepsis following medical termination of pregnancy". In her record of inquest, the coroner noted Ms Dunn was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital in Lancashire on 10 April 2020. She was suffering from a streptococcus infection caused by an early medical abortion on 23 March, which had produced sepsis and toxic shock by the time she was admitted to hospital. The coroner said "signs of sepsis were apparent" before and at the time of Ms Dunn's hospital admission but she was instead treated as a Covid-19 patient. "Sepsis was not recognised or treated by the GP surgery, emergency department or acute medical unit and upon Sarah's arrival at hospital, the sepsis pathway was not followed," she added. Read full story Source: BBC News, 19 May 2022
  3. News Article
    Heart surgery patients in London have died “unnecessarily” and faced increased risk of death as botched NHS investigations into dozens of deaths reduced a hospital’s ability to treat people, a coroner has warned. “Unnecessary” patient deaths have occurred as a result of heart surgery at St George’s University Hospital Trust being restricted and emergencies diverted to other “over stretched” hospitals, following investigations by national NHS bodies. The warning that deaths have occurred and may occur in the future, comes following the conclusion of a series of inquest hearings in March, during which it was found the NHS’ wrongly blamed a team of cardiac surgeons for the deaths of dozens of patients. Coroner Fiona Wilcox, in a report published on Wednesday, has now said the “inadequate” NHS led investigations, which criticised the care of 67 patients, led to people being put increased risk of death. The NHS’ investigations into the deaths of 67 patients ruled there were “shortcomings” in care. It led to complex operations being diverted elsewhere and doctors being referred to the General Medical Council. Two doctors have sinced been exonerated following GMC hearings. According to the coroner’s findings, capacity within cardiac surgery at the unit is down by 60% and staff are becoming “deskilled.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 11 May 2022
  4. News Article
    NHS management and leadership are overly ‘task focused’, according to briefings by the senior military leader who has carried out a major review of health and care for the government. General Sir Gordon Messenger has nearly completed the work, which had been due to be published shortly before Easter but was delayed by the government, and has briefed several senior leaders on several of his main observations. According to several senior figures, he has said NHS management and leadership are heavily “task focused” — a management term referring to an approach devoted to completing certain tasks or meeting certain short-term objectives; in contrast to an approach which focuses on people, relationships or skills. HSJ has spoken to several senior sources who have been briefed on Sir Gordon’s findings so far. One said the former military figure had observed that “NHS leadership is… very focused on getting things done, and not focused enough on how things get done – which I think is very fair if you think particularly what the last 10, 15 years have been like”. Another finding, according to those briefed, is the need for better support for NHS leaders running the most difficult local organisations, including providing what has been described as “support packages”. Read full story Source: HSJ, 26 April 2022
  5. News Article
    A nurse with no qualifications gave a care home resident a fatal dose of the wrong drug, leading to her death before she then tried to cover up her mistake. Katherine Hutchinson gave Fiona Jayne Thorne a fatal overdose of a powerful anti-psychotic drug, which was meant for another patient, an inquest heard. She then tried to cover up her errors which contributed to the death of the 36-year-old with learning difficulties, Derbyshire Live reported . Ms Hutchinson had, at the time, been the nurse in charge at Whitwell Park Care Home, in Whitwell, Derbyshire despite not having any qualifications. She gave Miss Thorne clozapine, which had been intended for another resident, on October 6, 2010. Instead of owning up to what she did, Ms Hutchinson then tried to cover up her mistake by taking Miss Thorne to bed and leaving her there until she was discovered, Senior Coroner Dr Robert Hunter said. Miss Thorne was "found by the care support worker around midnight, when undertaking routine checks on residents”, the inquest heard. And then Ms Hutchinson’s mistake was only discovered after an audit was carried out of the medication trolley and a dosage of clozapine was found. Read full story Source: Mirror, 8 April 2022
  6. News Article
    Hospital inspectors have uncovered repeated maternity failings and expressed serious concern about the safety of mothers and babies in Sheffield just days after a damning report warned there had been hundreds of avoidable baby deaths in Shrewsbury. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found Sheffield teaching hospitals NHS foundation trust, one of the largest NHS trusts in England, had failed to make the required improvements to services when it visited in October and November, despite receiving previous warnings from the watchdog. As well as concerns across the wider trust, a focused inspection on maternity raised significant issues about the way its service is run. When it came to medical staff at the Sheffield trust, the “service did not have enough medical staff with the right qualifications, skills, and experience to keep women and babies safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment”, the report said. Inspectors found that staff were not interpreting, classifying or escalating measures of a baby’s heart rate properly, an issue that was raised by Donna Ockenden in her review of the Shrewsbury scandal. Despite fetal monitoring being highlighted as an area needing attention in 2015 and 2021, the most recent inspection “highlighted that the service continued to lack urgency and pace in implementing actions and recommendations to mitigate these risks, therefore exposing patients to risk of harm”. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 5 April 2022
  7. News Article
    Members of the House of Lords have passed an amendment to the Health and Care Bill to enshrine mandatory training for health and care staff on learning disabilities and autism in law. The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disabilities and Autism programme is being developed by Health Education England in partnership with organisations such as Skills for Care and the Department of Health and Social Care, and alongside Oliver’s family. “It means that organisations have no choice but to free up their staff to attend this training” The training is named after Oliver whose death shone a light on the need for health and social care staff to have better training on learning disabilities and autism, and has been campaigned for by his parents Paula and Tom McGowan who believe his death was avoidable. The 18-year-old, who had mild hemiplegia, focal partial epilepsy, a mild learning disability and high-functioning autism, died in November 2016 after he was given antipsychotic medication even though he and his family warned it could be harmful to him. Following campaigning efforts and a consultation on training proposals for health and care staff, in November 2019, the government committed to developing a standardised training package. It draws on existing best practice, the expertise of people with autism, people with a learning disability and family carers and subject matter experts. Read full story Source: Nursing Times, 18 March 2022
  8. News Article
    Staff failed to provide kind and compassionate care and did not treat children with respect at a private hospital downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’, a report by health inspectors has revealed. Huntercombe Hospital Stafford was placed in special measures in 2016, but was rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission two years later. Now, its first inspection under provider Huntercombe Young People Ltd in October 2021 has exposed a raft of safety concerns and instances of poor care. Huntercombe Young People Ltd took over the service in February 2021. Heavy reliance on agency staff, workers spotted with their “eyes closed” on observations, and staff not respecting young people’s pronouns were among concerns inspectors flagged. Staff observation of patients was also found to be “undermined” by a blind spot where people could self-harm unseen, the CQC report, published today, said. Children also told the CQC they felt staff did not always understand their mental health condition or know how to support them, particularly those on the psychiatric intensive care ward with eating disorders or autism. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 10 March 2022
  9. News Article
    A 30-year-old actress whose symptoms were dismissed as anxiety died of a blood clot. Emily Chesterton believed she had seen a GP, but had in fact been seen twice by a physician associate (PA), a newer type of medical role that involves significantly less training. Her parents, Brendan and Marion Chesterton, both 64 and retired teachers, said they have serious concerns about plans for thousands more PAs to be employed to combat staff shortages as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. Chesterton’s calf pain and shortness of breath should have suggested a pulmonary embolism and meant she was sent to A&E. A coroner concluded this would probably have saved her life. Instead she was told to take anxiety pills. She collapsed that evening. She was taken to hospital but her heart stopped and she could not be revived. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 10 July 2023
  10. News Article
    Nearly 38,000 vital follow-up appointments with mental health patients were missed at the time when they were most at risk of suicide, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said. The medical body has called for “urgent action” to ensure more people are seen for follow-ups within 72 hours of their discharge from inpatient care, to prevent them from falling “through the cracks when they are so vulnerable”. The risk of suicide is highest on the second and third days after leaving a mental health ward, but 37,999 follow-up appointments with patients were not made within this timeframe in England between April 2020 and May 2022. According to NHS data, of the 160,430 instances when patients were eligible for follow-up care within 72 hours after discharge from acute adult mental health care, only three-quarters (76%) took place within that period. The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for more trained specialists to check on those perceived to be at risk, which they say requires more staffing and funding. The president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian James, said: “We simply can’t afford to let people fall through the cracks at a time when they are so vulnerable. It’s vital that our mental health services are properly staffed and funded to offer proper follow-up care and help prevent suicides. “Staff are working as hard as they can to provide high-quality care, but it’s clear that current resources are not enough to meet these targets. We need urgent action to tackle the workforce crisis and achieve the suicide prevention goals set out in the NHS long-term plan.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 22 August 2022
  11. News Article
    One in 25 people who die of a heart attack in the north-east of England could have survived if the average cardiologist effectiveness was raised to the London level, research shows. The research, undertaken by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), looked at the record of over 500,000 NHS patients in the UK, over 13 years. It highlights the stark “postcode lottery” of how people living in some parts of the country have access to lower quality healthcare. The results found that while cardiologists treating patients in London and the south-east had the best survival rates among heart attack patients, patients being treated in the north-east and east of England had the worst. Among 100 otherwise identical patients, an additional six patients living in the north-east and east of England would have survived for at least a year if they had instead been treated by a similar doctor in London. Furthermore, if the effectiveness of doctors treating heart attacks in these areas of the country were just as effective as the cardiologists in London, an additional 80 people a year in each region would survive a heart attack. The research also revealed a divide between rural and urban areas of England, with patients living in the former typically receiving treatment from less effective doctors compared with those in more urban areas. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 9 August 2022
  12. News Article
    A new report by the Stroke Association released today warns that, if the thrombectomy rate stays at 2020/21 levels, 47,112 stroke patients in England would miss out on the game changing acute stroke treatment, mechanical thrombectomy, over the length of the newly revised NHS Long Term Plan. This year, NHS England missed its original target to make mechanical thrombectomy available to all patients for whom it would benefit – only delivering to 28% of all suitable patients by December 20212. The Stroke Association’s ‘Saving Brains’ report calls for a 24/7 thrombectomy service, which could cost up to £400 million. But treating all suitable strokes with thrombectomy would save the NHS £73 million per year. Stroke professionals quoted in the report cite insufficient bi-plane suites, containing radiology equipment, as a barrier to a 24/7 service. The Stroke Association is calling for: The Treasury to provide urgent funding for thrombectomy in the Autumn Budget 2022, for infrastructure, equipment, workforce training and support, targeting both thrombectomy centres and referring stroke units. Department of Health and Social Care to develop a sustainable workforce plan to fill the gaps in qualified staff. NHS England to address challenges in transfer to and between hospitals in its upcoming Urgent & Emergency Care Plan. Putting innovation - such as artificial intelligence (AI) imaging software and video triage in ambulances - into practice. Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association said: “Thrombectomy is a miracle treatment that pulls patients back from near-death and alleviates the worst effects of stroke. It’s shocking that so many patients are missing out and being saddled with unnecessary disability. Plus, the lack of understanding from government, the NHS and local health leaders about the brain saving potential thrombectomy is putting lives at risk. There are hard-working clinicians across the stroke pathway facing an uphill struggle to provide this treatment and it’s time they got the support they need to make this happen. It really is simple. Thrombectomy saves brains, saves money and changes lives; now is the time for real action, so that nobody has to live with avoidable disability ever again." Read full story Source: The Stroke Association, 28 July 2022
  13. News Article
    Vulnerable patients cared for in secure mental health units across England could miss out on vital medications due to a shortage of learning disability nurses, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has warned. The report into medication omissions in learning disability secure units across the country highlights problems with retaining learning disability nurses, with the number recruited each year matching those leaving. Figures quoted in the report suggest the number of learning disability nurses in the NHS nearly halved from 5,500 in 2016 to 3,000 in 2020. The HSIB launched a national investigation after being alerted to the case of Luke, who spent time in NHS secure learning disability units but was not administered prescribed medication for diabetes and high cholesterol on several occasions. At Luke’s facility, which included low and medium secure wards, HSIB investigators considered that the quality and style of care provided to patients had been directly impacted by a lack of nurses with required skill sets. Findings from HSIB’s wider national investigation link a shortfall of learning disability nurses to instances of patients missing their medication, with the report’s authors describing a “system in which medicines omissions were too common and prevention, identification and escalation processes were not robust”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 23 June 2022
  14. News Article
    Only half of healthcare professionals feel they have sufficient tools to manage the long-term damage that sickle cell disease brings, new research has revealed. The in-depth study by Global Blood Therapeutics - carried out across 10 countries including the UK, US and Canada - shows that patients living with the illness remain dramatically underserved by healthcare systems, while healthcare professionals don’t feel like they have the knowledge of the disease or their patients, to properly treat them. More than two in five (43%) doctors and nurses cited difficulties due to having different ethnic backgrounds from their patients, it was revealed, while almost three quarters (73%) stated patients of lower economic status can be more difficult to treat. Almost a third of healthcare professionals (31%) found it challenging to understand their patients’ needs. Sebastian Stachowiak, Head of Europe and GCC at Global Blood Therapeutics, told The Independent that the survey “confirms the lack of options for physicians” and expressed hope that, with recent advances in available treatment, patients can be better served in the future. The study also found that almost half (46%) of patients say that emergency room healthcare providers did not believe them about their symptoms, while 48% said that they have been treated like a drug seeker in the emergency room. Read full story Source: The Independent, 14 June 2022
  15. News Article
    Two health watchdogs have issued safety warnings after junior staff were left to work unsupervised on maternity wards previously criticised after a baby’s death. Training regulator, Health Education England (HEE), criticised the “unacceptable” behaviour of consultants who left junior doctors to work without any superiors at South Devon and Torbay Hospital Foundation Trust’s wards. The maternity safety watchdog Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) also raised “urgent concerns” over student midwives and “unregistered midwives” providing care without supervision. The latest criticism comes after the trust was condemned over the death of Arabella Sparkes, who lived just 17 days in May 2020 after she was starved of oxygen. According to a report from December 2022, seen by The Independent, the HEE was forced to review how trainees were working at the trust’s maternity department after concerns were raised to the regulator. It was the second visit carried out following concerns about the department, and reviewers found there had been “slow progress” against concerns raised a year earlier. Read full story Source: The Independent, 16 February 2023
  16. News Article
    Thousands of children in mental health crisis are being treated on inappropriate general wards – with some forced to stay for more than a year and staff not properly trained to care for them, shocking new data reveals. New figures uncovered by The Independent show at least 2,838 children needing mental health care were admitted to non-psychiatric hospitals last year as the NHS battled with a lack of specialist staff and a surge in patients. Children with eating disorders – who often need to be restrained to be fed through tubes – are among those being routinely put on general wards. It means staff without any specialist training, including security guards, are sometimes left to restrain these young patients. One trust chief nurse told The Independent that porters had to be trained to restrain children on paediatric wards, causing trauma for both patients and staff. Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said she was “deeply concerned” about the situation. “We now find ourselves in a situation where children and young people who have an eating disorder or mental ill health, and who may be on long waiting lists for treatment, are increasingly ending up in emergency settings and then being treated on general paediatric wards. This simply isn’t good enough,” she said. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 May 2023
  17. Content Article
    In a blog for National Voices, the leading coalition of health and social care charities in England, Patient Safety Learning’s Chief Executive Helen Hughes discusses an independent report written by risk expert Tim Edwards that highlights serious and widespread safety concerns around the misdiagnosis of pulmonary embolism.
  18. Content Article
    Digital transformation across adult social care is occurring rapidly, however, uptake is not uniform, and the care sector is yet to fully harness digital tools to transform care delivery. With unprecedented service pressure and demand across health and care services, using digital tools in care settings has the potential to relieve some pressure by increasing efficiency and better supporting the workforce. This report by the think tank Public Policy Projects brings together the thoughts and ideas of many Adult Social Care experts regarding the future of the care sector, and the opportunities which digital advancements can bring. Chaired by Damian Green MP, it is intended as a thought-piece to guide action and further work on the area, as a guideline for future development.
  19. Content Article
    Jenny Edwards died in February 2022 from pulmonary embolism, following misdiagnosis. In this blog, her son Tim introduces us to Jenny, illustrating the deep loss felt following her premature passing. He talks about the care she received and argues that there were multiple points at which pulmonary embolism should have been suspected. Tim found the investigation that followed Jenny’s death to be lacking in objectivity and assurance that any learning could be taken forward. He has since produced an independent report, drawing on existing data, freedom of information requests and his mother’s case, to highlight broader safety issues.
  20. Content Article
    Pulmonary embolism is the third most common cause of cardiovascular death worldwide after stroke and heart attack. Although life-threatening, when diagnosed promptly survival rates are good.  This report, authored by risk expert Tim Edwards and published by Patient Safety Learning, highlights serious and widespread patient safety concerns relating to the misdiagnosis of pulmonary embolisms.  Drawing on existing data, freedom of information requests and his mother’s case, he outlines nine calls for action to improve pulmonary embolism care. 
  21. Content Article
    This article by Katherine Virkstis, Managing Director of the US health thinktank Advisory Board, looks at the growing problem of a nursing 'skills gap' in the US. She argues that this area is often overlooked, but needs to be tackled to ensure patients are safe. A recent boom in new nurses graduating means that the balance of the nursing workforce is now less experienced than it has previously been. The growing complexity of patients and care approaches in healthcare systems also means that the demand for highly-trained nurses with specific skills has increased. The author explains this as a widening 'experience-complexity gap' and suggests four strategies to close the gap: Bolster emotional support and show staff your own vulnerability as a leader Dramatically scope the first year of practise Differentiate practice for experienced nurses Reinforce experienced nurses' identity as system citizens
  22. News Article
    The NHS staffing crisis will be solved only if doctors and nurses get more flexible about their job descriptions and break down barriers between roles, according to Rishi Sunak’s health adviser. Bill Morgan argues that training times for doctors and nurses may have to be reduced, and suggests developing “sub-consultants” and entirely new medical professions, He wants ministers to create an Office for Budget Responsibility-style body to predict future workforce needs. The Treasury has held down the numbers of doctors and nurses Britain trains to prevent “supply-induced demand”, which encourages people to seek appointments that are not needed, Morgan argues. Chronic shortages of qualified staff are the biggest problem facing the health service, which has more than 130,000 vacancies. Morgan acknowledges that this means “some of the government’s key manifesto commitments will not be met”, citing the promise of 6,000 extra GPs. Sunak said this week that the government was “thinking creatively about what new roles and capabilities we need in the healthcare workforce of the future”. He urged the NHS to shed “conventional wisdom”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 24 November 2022
  23. News Article
    High-risk women at a maternity unit were not monitored closely enough and there was a "lack of learning" from a mother's death, inspectors found. A Care Qualtiy Commission (CQC) report rated the unit at Basildon University Hospital as inadequate with "failings" found in six other serious cases. Inspectors carried out unannounced checks in June after a whistleblower voiced fears about patient safety. The unit was criticised following the deaths of baby Ennis Pecaku in September 2018 and mother Gabriela Pintilie, 36, in February 2019. The CQC previously carried out an inspection of the department the month Mrs Pintilie died and said the unit, which had once been rated outstanding, required improvement. Inspectors returned for the surprise "focused" inspection after being contacted by an anonymous whistleblower. The report found babies were born in a poor condition and then transferred for cooling therapy, which can be offered for newborn babies with brain injury caused by oxygen shortage during birth. During their visit, inspectors found: High-risk women giving birth in a low-risk area. Not enough staff with the right skills and experience. "Dysfunctional" working between midwives, doctors and consultants, which had an impact on the "increased number of safety incidents reported". Concerns over foetal heart monitoring. Women being referred to by room numbers instead of their names. A "lack of response by consultants to emergencies" resulting in delays The CQC also referred to issues relating to the death of Mrs Pintilie, who was not named in the report, and said five serious incidents "identified the same failings of care". Read full story Source: BBC News, 18 August 2020 "This demonstrated there had been a lack of learning from previous incidents and actions put in place were not embedded."
  24. News Article
    Almost half of hospitals have a shortage of specialist stroke consultants, new figures suggest. One charity fears "thousands of lives" will be put at risk unless action is taken, with others facing the threat of a lifelong disability. In 2016, Alison Brown had what is believed to have been at least one minor stroke, but non-specialist doctors at different hospitals repeatedly told her she did not have a serious health condition. One even described it as an ear infection. Ten months later, aged 34, she had a bilateral artery dissection - a common cause of stroke in young people, where a tear in a blood vessel causes a clot that impedes blood supply to the brain. She was admitted to hospital - but again struggled for a diagnosis. A junior doctor found an issue with blood flow to the brain but she says their comments were dismissed and she was told it was a migraine. It was only when she collapsed again, days later, and admitted herself to a hospital with a dedicated stroke ward that a specialist team was able to give her the care she needed. Alison's case highlights the importance of being seen by stroke specialists. However, according to new figures from King's College London's 2018-19 Snapp (Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme) report, 48% of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have had at least one stroke consultant vacancy for the past 12 months or more. This has risen from 40% in 2016 and 26% in 2014. The Stroke Association charity - which analysed the data - says the UK is "hurtling its way to a major stroke crisis" unless the issue is addressed. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 January 2020
  25. News Article
    The NHS 111 helpline for urgent medical care is facing calls for an investigation after poor decision-making was linked to more than 20 deaths. Experts say that inexperienced call handlers and the software used to highlight life-threatening emergencies may not always be safe for young children. At least five have died in potentially avoidable incidents. Professor Carrie MacEwen, Chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “These distressing reports suggest that existing processes did not safeguard the needs of the children in these instances.” Since 2014 coroners have written 15 reports involving NHS 111 to try to prevent further deaths. There have been five other cases where inquests heard of missed chances to save lives by NHS 111 staff; two other cases are continuing and one was subject to an NHS England investigation. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 5 January 2020
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