Several hospitals placed in special measures following care quality investigations

Update – Tameside Hospital fails again – In 2014, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) 2014, interviewed almost 40,000 adults who attended Accident and Emergency departments

The worst Accident and Emergency department in England and Wales was identified as Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust. The hospital was put into special measures over a year ago over rising concerns about high death rates and failures in care. Clearly the problems remain

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that 11 hospital trusts will be put under special measures due to their poor performance whilst another three have been warned that they will joint the list if care quality does not drastically improve.

A recent review found that that the issues at the hospital were so deep-rooted that serious and immediate action had to be taken. Bad management, problems with staffing and high death rates were revealed but Hunt stressed in his statement to the House of Commons that he believed the hospitals would improve. Updates on the hospitals will be made publicly available and the most dangerous procedures have been stopped for the time being.

The 14 trusts were investigated after the Keogh review revealed that they had scored badly in terms of deaths in hospitals and deaths within 30 days of being released. The figures found at these hospitals were then compared with the statistics for trusts serving similar demographics

This does not necessarily prove that medical errors are being made as was the case at Mid Staffordshire Hospital because the only way to prove that is to trawl through the notes of each and every patient. However, it shows that action must be taken and Mr Hunt has clearly seen the need to act quickly, highlighting some of the following problems found by investigators:

• Overworked staff

• Unanswered complaints

• Inadequate staffing levels

• Issues (such as an increase in the number of still births) not being reported to the hospital board

• Lack of maintenance e.g. of operating theatres

• Patients being left unattended in corridors for long periods

The hospitals placed under special measures recorded the highest death rates over the last three years and given the uproar over the Stafford Hospital revelations the NHS had to act.

The three hospitals under further investigation are:

• The Colchester University NHS Foundation Trust

• The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

Blackpool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The following 11 are now under special measures:

• North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

• Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

• United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

• Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

• Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

• Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

• Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

• East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

• George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust

The findings have been met with shock by the patient charity Action Against Medical Accidents. Frankly, the fact that the hospitals have only been investigated now is a travesty and should have happened 12 months ago. However, it is consistent with recent NHS efforts to try and hide failings which in turn has placed patients at risk and allowed bad practices to continue. Sadly, many people have lost their lives in the time it has taken for these hospitals to be properly investigated.

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