Maidstone Hospital – more negligence and poor performance

Maidstone Hospital – medical errors and lack of improvement – the latest update

Since this blog was originally written back in 2014, the position at Maidstone Hospital doesn’t seem to have improved.

The latest review was made by the Care Quality Commission report on the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust which runs a number of other services including The Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury. The overall conclusion was that the trust still “requires improvement”.

In describing how the trust was run, as you will see below, only the level of care was described as good. All the others either required improvement and its particular damning that the leadership was described as frankly “inadequate”. In particular the report found the following;

  • Safety – Requires improvement
  • Effective – Requires improvement
  • Levels of care – Good
  • Speed of Response –  Requires improvement
  • Leadership – Inadequate

If that wasn’t bad enough, of the 7 individual medical services provided by the Maidstone Hospital Trust,  just one was up to scratch. The report described these services as follows;

  • A and E services (A&E) – Requires improvement
  • End of life care  – Requires improvement
  • Medical care (including older people’s care) – Requires improvement
  • Intensive  care- Inadequate
  • Maternity and gynaecology – Good
  • Outpatients – Requires improvement
  • Services for children & young people -Requires improvement

It really doesn’t make good reading does it.

Recent medical mistakes?

There was the case of Frances Cappuccini, the 30 year old mother of two, who died after giving birth by emergency Caesarean section. Her husband is currently in the process of making a medical negligence claim against the trust.

In 2015, a widow from Aylesford was awarded £177,000 for the death of her husband – after his heart condition Mars missed by Maidstone Hospital in December 2012. The man had earlier been discharged with follow-up and during the subsequent investigation the hospital eventually admitted that he should have been admitted to hospital instead of being sent home.

Here is the original post

Grieving relatives of five patients who died following keyhole surgery have been angered by what they believe is a “cover-up” by hospital authorities. They have demanded to be told the truth about the circumstances leading to the deaths of their loved ones.

Expected legal action for medical negligence

They are now preparing to take legal action against Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent and have voiced their concern about the failure to reveal the full findings of an external formal investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons.

Three NHS surgeons, based at the trust, have been stopped from carrying out the procedure for upper gastrointestinal cancer but have been allowed to carry on working.

Lawyers are now looking at a further 17 cases involving the surgery that has led to complications or death following botched operations by the consultants.

Despite the ban on carrying out the keyhole operation used on cancer patients, the three surgeons are still continuing with their usual duties and other surgical procedures at the trust’s hospitals alongside their private work.

The scandal is the latest of many in recent times to hit the turbulent NHS trust. The three men have been referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) that is poised to consider whether to investigate their fitness to practice while no disciplinary action has yet been taken against them by the trust.

Controversy also surrounds the motives of the three surgeons in carrying out the keyhole procedure amid claims that it was an attempt to raise their personal professional profiles in what is a highly competitive field.

It is understood that medics who were invited to attend a live broadcast of one such procedure, which resulted in the death of a 51-year-old patient, paid in the region of £900 for tickets to attend the practical seminar.

The relatives of those who died are now in the process of suing for medical negligence and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust has also referred itself to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) after “unexpected” and “potentially avoidable” fatalities after gastrointestinal surgical procedures in 2012 and 2013.

Following an investigation by the RCS it was recommended that the trust cease all “oesophageal and gastric resection operations” until it had addressed its failings.

It issued a warning stating that the surgeons had not demonstrated “sufficient attention to the detail of surgical outcomes or clinical decision-making in respect of keyhole procedures.” The full RCS report on its findings has not yet been revealed by the trust.

It is understood that the report makes reference to an anonymous letter from whistleblowers working for the trust highlighting their serious concerns about “dangerous and unethical practices” in surgery and the frequency of warnings made by staff in the unit over poor standards of care.

Meanwhile patients are now forced to travel to St Thomas’ Hospital, London, while the GI work is suspended at the trust.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust defended its position in not releasing the full report following the RCS investigation stating that it was the focus of a continuing review by the GMC and consultants and may involve points of “factual accuracy”.

The trust added that it fully “accepted and implemented” the review’s recommendations and that this meant consultants responsible for the procedure should no longer carry out laparoscopic upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery.

Maidstone Hospital and medical negligence – it’s nothing new

This particular Trust is of course no stranger to controversy. Back in 2007 the Healthcare Commission was strongly critical of the way the Trust handled a nasty outbreak of Clostridium Difficile [or C Difficile as it is usually known] in its hospitals in a period April 2004 to September 2006. The Commission’s report estimated that about 90 patients “definitely or probably” died as a result of the superbug infection, a situation which, the Health Secretary at the time, Alan Johnson, described as “scandalous”.

My concern about medical negligence in Maidstone – it’s really personal

I’m particularly interested in this case. Firstly, I was born and bred in Maidstone – after being born in the old Fant Lane Hospital, I was very well treated in a number of admissions as a child to the old West Kent General Hospital in Marsham Street in the town centre.

What’s more, my father was Secretary of the group of local hospitals back in the 70s – which meant he was responsible for running West Kent and some others – and I’m sure he would have been horrified by the culture of poor standards that seems to have become endemic to the Maidstone Hospital since then. The NHS Trust seems prepared to put up with case after case of medical negligence – and when it comes to medical negligence and Maidstone, that’s a very sore spot with me – as my father, who died back in the 1980s after retiring from the hospital service, did so at Maidstone General Hospital after his own cancer was misdiagnosed for some time by a local GP.

Victim of medical negligence at Maidstone Hospital? Get expert advice today

If you’re thinking of making a claim following the death of a loved one at Maidstone Hospital, I really do understand that nothing can replace them – but our specialist medical negligence solicitors can help you claim compensation for your loss, and it will help to ensure that local NHS doesn’t continue to make mistakes like the one the cost me my father.

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    Medical Negligence and Surgery for Varicose Veins

    Do you think that you might have been a victim of medical negligence during a varicose vein procedure? If so, what are your legal entitlements and what options are there?

    What is a Varicose Vein?

    A varicose vein is a medical condition caused by a vein becoming weaker. This allows blood to flow back up the vein and can cause a build-up of blood. Our body’s muscle and blood system usually makes sure that blood flows round our body in one way only, but a weakness in the vein stops this happening. Not all cases of varicose veins need surgery, but if a patient starts to experience other complications such as swelling, pain, ulcers or discomfort, an operation may be recommended.

    The leg is the most common part of the body in which to find varicose veins. The veins may appear swollen, discoloured, twisted and distended. Suffering from varicose veins can also lead to swollen feet or ankles, or cramps in the muscles. Prompt treatment of varicose veins is required as leaving them untreated can be detrimental to the health of you or a loved one.

    Surgery for Varicose Veins

    Having an operation to treat varicose veins is common, and in most cases will be relatively uncomplicated. However, occasionally errors can be made during an operation which can have a serious impact on the patient’s health. If the mistakes made are serious enough to be classed as medical negligence, then the patient may not only be claim for compensation, but also for the costs of any corrective surgery which might be needed.

    What Constitutes Medical Negligence in Varicose Vein Surgery?

    Any surgery which does not come up to acceptable standards can be classed as medical negligence. Some of the more common complications of surgery for varicose veins include damage to the veins themselves or nerve damage in the immediate area, which causes problems with walking after the surgery. If this has happened to you, or a loved one, then it is vital that you get specialist legal advice as soon as you can. Further surgery might be needed to repair damage to the vessels or nerves, and you may be eligible to claim compensation for medical negligence.

    Other Surgical Errors and Varicose Veins

    Not all cases of varicose veins need surgical treatment, only those which are causing the patient pain or discomfort. Sometimes though further treatment is recommended to deal with any complications, or for cosmetic reasons. Surgeons have to act with due diligence and the required skill when operating on varicose veins and if this does not happen, the following errors may occur:

    • Serious or permanent damage to nerves
    • Excessive scarring
    • Delays in treating post-operative infections

    Had Surgery for Varicose Veins/ Victim of Medical Negligence? Call us today

    Our Medical Negligence specialists can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

    We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for medical claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

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      Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust PLaced In Special Measures

      Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has now been placed into special measures. It is the first mental health trust in England and Wales to receive this drastic treatment.

      A recent inspection of the Trust, which runs various healthcare services and hospitals in East Anglia, detected a number of serious problems resulting in an overall “inadequate” rating

      The inspection by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) led the Chief Inspector of Hospitals to recommend it be placed into special measures. The inspection in question took place in October of 2014. CQC inspectors looked at the Trust overall and at individual services, and rate them on a four point scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

      The Trust provides learning disability services and mental health care to a large swathe of Suffolk and Norfolk and was found to be in need of significant improvements to ensure that it was providing its patients with care which was effective, safe, well managed and responsive to the needs of patients.

      CQC concerns regarding the Norfolk and Suffolk Trust were passed to Monitor – the official body responsible for health services across England – which has now made the special measures decision.

      “Inadequate” services “requiring improvement”

      Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was rated “inadequate” when inspectors looked at whether services were properly managed and safe, and “requiring improvement” for services being effective and responsive. The CQC rated the Trust as “inadequate” overall.

      During the inspection the CQC found that across many areas of the Trust staff morale was exceptionally low, and there were concerns raised about the lack of support given to staff by senior management.

      The CQC also found examples of unsafe environments which did not allow patient dignity, not enough staff on duty to meet the needs of patients, poor management of medication and issues around practices concerning seclusion and restraint.

      The CQC demanded that the Trust take action to identify and remove ligature risks, and to make alternative arrangements where staff cannot easily see patients. The CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Dr Paul Lelliott, said that a number of serious problems were identified during the CQC inspection.

      Dr Lelliott said that the CQC was concerned about both the quality and safety of care found in some of the Trust’s services. He also stated that the CQC were worried by the low levels of morale expressed by many of the staff who had been spoken to, who expressed the opinion that they were not being heard by senior Trust management.

      CQC inspectors did identify some positives from the inspection, and found good examples of working practices across disciplines from staff in the child and adolescent community teams.

      Victim of medical negligence from Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Trust? Call our specialists today

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        The 5 Worst and Most Devastating NHS Scandals of all time

        Mid Staffordshire / Stafford Hospital scandal

        In recent years, one of the highest-profile NHS scandals has been that of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust and Stafford Hospital, which experienced very poor care and high mortality rates amongst patients during the late 2000s. Amongst emergency admissions to Stafford Hospital, mortality rates were unusually high, and in 2007 Julie Bailey started the Cure the NHS campaign after her own mother died at the hospital. She immediately encountered a defensive attitude from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, which denied any responsibility.

        When the Healthcare Commission finally launched an investigation into Stafford Hospital, the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust failed to provide an adequate explanation to the Healthcare Commission and a full-scale investigation was launched in 2008. A year later the report criticised the Foundation Trust heavily and suggested that between 400 and 1,200 deaths could have been avoided between 2005 and 2008 had the care and conditions at the hospital been of an acceptable standard. The trust’s chief executive, Martin Yeates, was suspended with full pay and subsequently dismissed with a huge financial pay-off, despite refusing to provide any evidence at the enquiries.

        As a result of the scandal, compensation payments were made to the affected families, averaging £11,000. The public enquiry into the failure of the trust and hospital made 290 recommendations and highlighted a number of shocking revelations including patients being left to sit in their own urine and being forced to drink from flower vases due to not being given adequate liquids.

        Bristol heart scandal

        In the 1990s, it was found that a number of babies at the Bristol Royal Infirmary died after cardiac surgery at a rate far higher than would otherwise be reasonably expected. An enquiry was launched which found that problems including staff shortages, a lack of leadership, and old boys’ culture among doctors and an attitude of relaxation and secrecy with regards to safety and doctors’ performance had led to the failings.

        As a result of the Bristol heart scandal, cardiac surgeons led efforts to ensure that more data on the performance of doctors and hospitals was published, giving additional transparency to medical procedures.

        Alder Hey organs scandal

        The Alder Hey organs scandal came about after a public enquiry in 1999 in which it was found that in the period between 1988 and 1995, organs from around 850 deceased and stillborn children were stored at the hospital without the consent or knowledge of the parents.

        The scandal resulted in the formation of the Human Tissue Act 2004, which included new legislation on the handling and storage of human tissues and also led to the formation of the Human Tissue Authority. It was found that the retention of organs was ordered by Dutch pathologist Dick van Velzen, who was later permanently banned from practising medicine in the United Kingdom.

        Ely Hospital scandal

        Ely Hospital was established in 1862 as an Industrial School for Orphaned Children before becoming a workhouse and later a psychiatric hospital. An enquiry was launched by Brian Abel-Smith following reports of the abuse of patients in 1969, following a News of the World article in August 1967 which alleged that patients were ill-treated and subject to petty pilfering.

        Until the scandal came to light, the abhorrent treatment of mentally ill patients was seen as acceptable by many in the medical world, with the institutions being isolated and inward looking. As a result of the scandal, the 1971 Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped whitepaper was released, leading to improved care for the mentally ill.

        Tainted Blood scandal

        In the 1970s and 1980s, tens of thousands of people were given contaminated blood during blood transfusion operations, leading to thousands of infections, serious diseases and deaths. Lord Robert Winston later went on to describe it as “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service”.

        Thousands of people were infected with life-threatening viruses including HIV and Hepatitis C, with more than 2,000 people dying as a result and a number of victims and their families still seeking justice and retribution. The Contaminated Blood Campaign claims that some people were deliberately targeted and that such an enormous and widespread case of medical negligence could not possibly have been an accident.

        Victim of NHS Medical Negligence? Contact us today

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          Joint replacement medical negligence claims

          If you have had a problem with a knee, hip, elbow or any other joint, you may have had to have the joint replaced by a medical professional. Joint replacements are increasingly common in the United Kingdom, with thousands of people undergoing treatment every year. With growing numbers of joint replacements being carried out, cases in which they’ve gone wrong are also on the increase.

          Joint replacements – problems leading to a negligence claim

          Occasionally, defective or faulty implants are used, meaning that the surgery will be deemed unsuccessful and the patient may have reduced movement or even end up having to use a wheelchair to move around. Some particular brands of hip implants, for example, have been recalled over safety concerns as a large percentage of patients had reported problems. Fitting can also provide issues, with many implants not being fitted properly or using inferior cement, meaning that the joint replacement will not last as long as was stated at the outset, causing untold pain and discomfort for the patient. [Click here for more about hip implant replacement claims]

          Cases have even been seen where the wrong sized implants have been used, causing ongoing pain and mobility issues for patients because their new hip or knee has been too small or large for their frame. Of course, there are also the surgical errors which can occur in any form of surgery, such as surgical pins being left inside bodies, nerve damage or general medical malpractice.

          Don’t worry about your joint replacement – the overwhelming majority of operations in the UK are highly successful

          If you are due a joint replacement, you should not worry unduly. The vast majority of medical procedures are carried out effectively and without any issues whatsoever, but in the cases where things do go wrong, you may well have a valid claim for medical negligence. Medical negligence claims will take into account the amount of pain you have had to suffer as well as lost earnings and the impact on your life as a whole.

          Recovering from a serious operation can take a lot of time and impact on your life regardless, but in situations where medical malpractice has exacerbated this recovery period and caused undue stress and worry which you otherwise would not have had to deal with, it may well be the case that you will be able to initiate a legal process which could result in you being awarded financial compensation for the trauma you have had to go through. No-one should have to suffer in silence because of the incompetence of a trained medical professional.

          Thinking of making a joint replacement negligence claim? Don’t delay

          There are, however, strict time limits on making medical compensation claims, so you will need to act fast. Speaking to a professional medical negligence lawyer as quickly as possible will ensure that your claim can be dealt with diligently and professionally, leaving you free to recover from your experience without having to worry about the ongoing legal aspects. Only by talking to a specialist solicitor will you be able to accurately gauge whether or not a claim may be made, before leaving it in the hands of the professionals who will be best placed to fight your corner for you.

          Considering a joint replacement negligence claim? Contact us today

          Don’t suffer in silence. we can can help.

          For FREE initial phone advice and a FREE first appointment from accredited medical claim experts, contact us now

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            Police Investigate Royal Worcester Hospital Cancer Doctor

            Police have opened an investigation into the deaths of a number of patients who were under the care of a Royal Worcester Hospital surgeon suspended from work amid concerns over safety.

            Sudip Sarker was excluded by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in October 2012 under the urgent advice of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), which had been called in to investigate his clinical practice.

            A dedicated helpline for patients who had concerns about him took calls from 51 people last summer. Officers from West Mercia Police did not reveal how many patients were involved in their investigation, but confirmed that three patients whose deaths were the subject of a joint inquest held in December last year would form part of the inquiry.

            Mr Sarker worked as a consultant colorectal surgeon, specialising in keyhole surgery for colon cancer, at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch as well as the Royal Worcester Hospital from August 2011 until his suspension little more than a year later.

            He is also being investigated by the General Medical Council, and his registration as a doctor is currently subject to interim conditions.

            North Worcestershire Superintendent Kevin Purcell said the investigation began after police received a letter at the end of last year.

            The trust said it was co-operating fully with the police and that it had acted “swiftly and responsibly” as soon potential problems were brought to light. Medical records of all Mr Sarker’s patients who underwent a major operation, such as for bowel cancer, had been reviewed.

            “Patients we were concerned about were recalled for further assessment and appropriate investigations,” a spokesperson said. “A separate review of all patients who had any contact with Mr Sarker is being performed by a team of specialist external surgeons.”

            The RCS review looked at a sample of Mr Sarker’s patients. Although the report has not been published, it was reported that it showed his mortality rates were twice as high as other surgeons in a similar field and that one in five of his patients had to be readmitted after surgery.

            However, surgical outcomes figures compiled by the Association of Coloproctology showed a mortality rate for Mr Sarker comparable with those for many other colorectal surgeons.

            Victim of medical negligence at Royal Worcester Hospital? Call our specialists today

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              Dr Foster Report 2013 – Weekend Clinical Care In The NHS: Is It Improving?

              The annual Dr Foster Hospital Guide has always reported on several issues surrounding our country’s hospitals, and one of those areas explored this year was that of weekend clinical care in the NHS. As weekends are considered outside of normal working hours, the care patients receive at these times can differ greatly to the level of care they experience in the week. So what did the 2013 report find out regarding weekend care in the NHS?

              What was being analysed?

              The report looked at several factors concerning levels of clinical care for patients both at the weekends and at the very end of the week, where care was likely to be carried over into Saturday and Sunday. It also gathered information regarding emergency operations, post-operative periods of recuperation, hospital returns after being discharged and the likelihood of receiving diagnostic tests on the day of admission over a weekend. All of these things were then compared to the level of clinical care being provided during weekdays (or ‘normal working hours’).

              What did the report find?

              Generally, the results varied, as some of the findings were based on perceptions of patient care. For example, 68% of doctors (as interviewed by Dr Foster and,  the largest professional network of UK doctors) believed that at their hospitals, patients admitted at the weekend did indeed suffer from lower levels of care than those admitted on weekdays.

              Statistically, emergency overall mortality rates are 20% higher when a patient is admitted at a weekend, and in terms of routine surgery, operations performed at weekends have a 24% higher patient mortality rate. If we look at more specific treatments, emergency endoscopies – taking place on the day of admission – are 40% lower at weekends, with emergency MRI scans being 42% lower at weekends.

              Patients are also more likely to have longer waiting times for hip replacements at weekends. But how many hospitals do these statistics actually apply to? Eight hospital trusts have improved their mortality rate for weekend patients, with another eight having ‘low’ mortality rates for both weekend and weekday admissions. On the other hand, eight trusts are still experiencing higher weekend mortality rates compared to patients who are admitted during the week.

              What does this mean for the NHS?

              Overall, it is clear that there are still problems with patients experiencing substandard weekend care, and while some trusts have improved on these levels of care, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is simply unacceptable that patients who have emergency operations on weekends are less likely to survive the treatment, or that patients seen over the weekend are more likely to need to return to the hospital once discharged because they weren’t properly cared for the first time round.

              There is also still a big difference in the best trusts and the worst trusts. It should be noted that some improvements have been made over the past twelve months, but most trusts need to address this problem quickly and thoroughly. As public debates about NHS standards continue, Sir Bruce Keogh (Medical Director for NHS England) is looking at improving weekend hospital care as a top priority.

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