Patient safety concerns over Birmingham hospital probe

2 weeks ago 42

QE Hospital, Birmingham

Image caption,

University Hospitals Birmingham employs astir 20,000 unit and treats much than 2.2 cardinal patients a year

By David Grossman and Sean Clare

BBC Newsnight

An NHS England probe into claims of a toxic civilization astatine a infirmary spot has been described arsenic lacking transparency and undermining trust.

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman besides said determination were "very serious" diligent information issues astatine University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB).

Criticism is contained successful letters seen by the BBC betwixt the ombudsman, the spot and NHS England.

The spot said it had told the PHSO it took the concerns seriously.

It added it was "committed to moving with the ombudsman to guarantee each families person a wide knowing of immoderate issues relating to their loved one's care".

The inquiries, commissioned by the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board and the section NHS, were begun successful effect to an probe by BBC Newsnight and BBC West Midlands which heard from existent and erstwhile clinicians from the trust, who accused it of being "mafia-like".

The spot has antecedently denied this allegation.

NHS England successful the portion is overseeing the reports into culture, enactment and diligent information issues astatine UHB.

One of England's biggest infirmary trusts, UHB has been successful the spotlight for months aft 3 probes were started pursuing allegations doctors determination were threatened for raising information concerns.

The spot denies this and says its "first precedence is diligent safety".

The ombudsman, however, said helium was sceptical astir the reviews' transparency and independence.

His uncovering of "very serious" diligent information issues astatine UHB is based connected the trust's effect to the ombudsman's recommendations and findings, including a lawsuit of an avoidable diligent death.

Image caption,

In a missive to the infirmary trust, ombudsman Rob Behrens said helium was acrophobic by leaders' "defensiveness"

In letters seen by Newsnight, the ombudsman Rob Behrens has written to the spot and NHS England, criticising both.

Mr Behrens wrote his organisation had been excluded from the NHS England-led reappraisal into UHB, expressing his disappointment that grounds held by the ombudsman would not beryllium considered.

"PHSO's (Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman) exclusion from the reappraisal process leaves maine acrophobic astir the completeness and transparency of the reviews," helium wrote.

In a abstracted missive to under-fire UHB's interim main executive, Mr Behrens said:

  • he was "concerned by the defensiveness" of leaders astatine the trust
  • that assurance the spot had a "willingness to judge accountability oregon larn from failings" had been eroded
  • that the spot had failed to enactment connected recommendations from the ombudsman

Speaking to Newsnight, Mr Behrens said his organisation had investigated 2 avoidable deaths astatine the trust.

He said helium was truthful acrophobic by diligent information issues determination that successful an unprecedented determination past summer, helium triggered an "emerging concerns protocol".

First usage of protocol

It followed an ombudsman investigation, which "found a decease was avoidable, but spot enactment refused to judge our findings", Mr Behrens wrote to NHS England.

The protocol allows wellness regulators to stock hazard accusation astir a hospital.

"This is the archetypal clip that I person done it," Mr Behrens told Newsnight. "So that represents the seriousness with which we respect these issues."

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

UHB has an yearly turnover of £1.6bn and is 1 of the largest teaching infirmary trusts successful England

The ombudsman's bureau receives astir 30,000 complaints a twelvemonth and tin marque recommendations to the hospitals concerned.

It has nary enforcement powers but says it has a 97% compliance rate.

According to figures provided by the watchdog, it has had much complaints astir UHB successful the past 3 years than astir immoderate different trust.

The work of what was described by section NHS officials arsenic a "rapid review" into diligent information pursuing Newsnight and BBC West Midlands' probe has since been delayed.

It had been owed to study past week, but work has present been postponed by days, perchance weeks.

'Undermines credibility'

However, David Melbourne, the main enforcement of Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB), which commissioned the probe, told section councillors precocious reviewers had "not identified immoderate reddish flags successful presumption of safety".

But Mr Behrens said it was excessively aboriginal to marque that conclusion.

"It does not chime with my experience," helium said.

"It is simply a problem. It's illustrative of the antiaircraft behaviour which undermines the credibility of the spot successful the archetypal place.

"If those reviewing the behaviour successful the spot had had much confidence, past determination would person been a much unfastened enquiry which would alteration america and different regulators to springiness our acquisition and our grounds and then, connected that basis, a much inclusive judgement could person been taken.

"But I deliberation it is precise aboriginal to beryllium reassured astir these issues."

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The spot runs 4 main hospitals successful Birmingham and Solihull

In a papers released connected Friday, the ICB said of the diligent information reappraisal "there are nary cardinal information issues astatine the trust" but that "there are important issues astir culture, behaviour, enactment and governance that volition request to beryllium addressed".

On this claim, again, the wellness work ombudsman was scathing.

"You can't divided diligent information from civilization and enactment successful organisations," helium said, adding the 2 were "intimately connected".

"Clinicians instrumentality their pb from the views and the disposition of the spot leaders, the main executives and the board," helium said.

"It's up to the leaders of the spot to make a clime which gives primacy to diligent safety, not to the estimation of the organisation."

In response, UHB told the BBC: "The main enforcement has responded to the [ombudsman's] letter, to supply reassurance that their concerns person been taken seriously."

It besides said it had been moving to put further meetings with the ombudsman "to hold however our organisations tin enactment amended unneurotic successful the interests of our patients and staff".

NHS England successful the Midlands said: "The reviews into University Hospitals Birmingham Trust person been commissioned to rigorously scrutinise enactment and civilization successful the organisation to guarantee they are providing harmless attraction for patients, arsenic good arsenic providing transparent accusation connected immoderate areas wherever enactment and situation are needed astatine the trust.

"We invited the connection of enactment from the ombudsman's bureau who we person precocious met, and we are continuing to enactment with them to usage their expertise wherever it tin connection astir worth arsenic portion of the planned taste review."

NHS Birmingham and Solihull said: "We person not heard from the ombudsman connected this substance but would invited a speech and are keen to supply assurance connected the processes we are following.

"The reappraisal is, and volition proceed to be, autarkic and we person published regular updates astatine our committee and astatine section scrutiny groups.

"The cross-party notation radical is an further committedness to ensuring independence."

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