Hospital chiefs admit failings in care for patients left without food and water

UNDER-FIRE health bosses have admitted four patients suffered “basic failings” in care but say there are no wider problems with hospital standards following an investigation into claims vulnerable people were left without food and water for several days at a NHS trust in the region.

A report published today by the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust into criticisms of the care of 10 patients concludes standards in four cases fellow below expected levels.

Officials said staff could face disciplinary action but they say there are “no systemic problems” at the trust which runs hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole, with care in the remaining six cases judged to be “acceptable”.

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An external review made 14 recommendations for improvements including continued recruitment of more doctors and nurses and checks on training dealing with patients with learning disabilities.

The NHS trust was taken out of special measures last month a year after Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors ruled standards were inadequate amid concerns over death rates.

Details of the latest problems were exclusively revealed in May by The Yorkshire Post over allegations a patient with learning problems was left without food and water for several days at Scunthorpe General Hospital.

Chief executive Karen Jackson said today: “We are very sorry that four patients have experienced poor care. It is simply not acceptable and certainly not what we as a trust and what the majority of our staff strive for.

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“The external investigation agrees with our internal report that these are isolated cases which are unconnected. The recent CQC inspection rated the quality of care at all three of our hospitals as ‘good’ and I believe that this is genuinely the case for the majority of the thousands of patients who come through our doors each week.

“We are urgently addressing the issues raised in the investigation with the individuals involved in the patients’ care.”

The investigation found:

• Problems identified were not “systemic”, although in some cases it was clear there was a “failure of basic standards of nursing and medical care”

• Common features included a failure to escalate concerns; lack of adequate care planning and communication of care plans and documentation; nutrition and hydration needs not adequately met; need for further training for staff in respect of managing patients with learning disabilities

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• In three cases, there were potential issues of “professional accountability” which would be dealt with by trust internal procedures and referral to professional regulators.

It said all the incidents were picked up through standard internal reporting and had been dealt with according to official procedures.

Two had occurred on the same ward in April and both had been declared “serious untoward incidents” - the most serious level.

Recommendations included reviews of patient handovers between doctors, training of staff dealing with patients with learning disabilities and of mechanisms when medication has been delayed or missed.