Call for 'urgent action' to cut hospital death rates
STAFFING at Grimsby's Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, along with those in Scunthope and Goole, must be "urgently reviewed" to cut death rates, which are among the highest in the UK.
That is the view an expert team, which found Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) – which manages the hospitals – to have higher mortality rates then similar UK trusts.
The first phase of the Transforming Health Ltd review, led by Stephen Ramsden, a former NHS Chief Executive Officer and director of the national Patients Safety First Campaign, took place between March and June.
As part of the review, Mr Ramsden and his team heard from 35 people, who recounted their experiences of their treatment at hospitals across the trust. And, while some said they were delighted with the clinical care they had received, the team heard some had endured horrific experiences.
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One woman revealed after asking for pain relief in the evening, she was told she "should have taken it when she was offered it at lunchtime" – when she was not in pain.
Another spoke of being stripped naked on a ward for a bed bath by two nurses, who then talked over her as they washed her.
A family visiting a blind patient also claimed medication was left on their food trolley rather than being administered and was sometimes found on the floor.
Other general complaints included concerns over poor hygiene, with some claiming bedding was not changed, they did not get help washing and toilet facilities were poor.
During the first of four observational visits to wards, the team itself recorded that there were "few nurses available for patients' immediate needs". During the visit one patient said that during the night call bells go "unanswered for long periods", adding he had repeatedly asked for medication for his pain to no avail.
As a result of the review, the team has made 40 recommendations, including:
Urgently reviewing nurse staffing levels.
Resolving pressure on beds at Grimsby's hospital.
Improving the use of bedside documents, including details of fluid administration and observations.
However, the Trust has claimed many of the recommendations have already been addressed.
Medical director Dr Liz Scott said: "This is an issue for the whole health community and we are working hard within the Trust, with our colleagues in primary care and with surrounding academic institutions to make sure all possible factors are addressed.
"The Trust is one of the highest performing hospital NHS trusts in the country and we constantly strive to improve our quality of care and patient safety.
"We will continue to rigorously monitor all indicators, including our mortality data, to ensure we give the very best care possible to our patients."
Chief nurse Karen Dunderdale added: "The whole reason for the review is to understand why our mortality rate is higher than average and to then work on recommendations that can help us reduce this.
"There is a safe level of staffing across the Trust but we are aware of issues in specific areas.
"Nurse documentation is an issue for us – and on national level. We have already started work reviewing this to try to make it more patient focused.
"I have no concerns over staff levels and we have systems in place and currently running to improve upon the work already provided."
At a press conference yesterday the Trust would not reveal the number of deaths or give any breakdowns for the individual hospitals.
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