Spire Healthcare fined £5,000 for delay in notifying patients of concerns over care at Leeds hospital

One of the country’s largest private healthcare providers has been fined £5,000 after delaying telling patients of concerns regarding their care at their Leeds hospital.

Spire Leeds

The four patients suffered prolonged pain and needed further surgery after being treated at Spire Leeds by upper limb orthopaedic consultant Mike Walsh, who was suspended in April 2018.

Spire Healthcare Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay nearly £15,000 costs after pleading guilty at Leeds Magistrates on Thursday to failing to comply with duty of candour obligations in what the Care Quality Commssion says is the first prosecution of its kind against an independent provider.

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The four were treated by Mr Walsh, to differing extents, up until 2017, when concerns were raised with the hospital by Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, several physiotherapists and another surgeon, the CQC said.

Spire then undertook a review of a number of Mr Walsh’s cases including the four in yesterday’s court case. These cases were also reviewed by an independent surgeon, in May and June 2018.

In November 2018, Spire issued letters to the four informing them of concerns identified in respect of their care and treatment.

The CQC, which brought the prosecution, said Spire was aware that it was a notifiable safety incident at least several months before the letters were issued.

Head of hospital inspection Sarah Dronsfield said the patients “neither received a prompt apology nor full explanation for the poor care they received”, adding: “Spire Hospital Leeds was not transparent or open with regards to what happened.”

Group clinical director Alison Dickinson issued another apology to the four patients for the delay in notifying them and for the care they received in 2017/18.

She said: “We fell short of the requirements regarding duty of candour as well as the high standards that we set for ourselves and that patients should be able to expect from us.

"We have reflected carefully on the lessons we can learn and we have invested significantly in training, and strengthened our systems in our hospitals for ensuring that patients are informed when something goes wrong, in a transparent and timely way."