Hospital patients suffered “basic failings in care”, review finds

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HOSPITAL bosses have admitted vulnerable patients suffered “basic failings in care” which left them without food and water but claim there are no wider problems with services at an under-fire NHS trust in the region.

A external report for the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust into criticisms of the care of 10 patients concluded standards in four cases fell below expected levels.

Officials said staff could face disciplinary action but “no systemic problems” had been uncovered at the trust, which runs hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole, with care in the remaining six cases “acceptable”.

The report comes weeks after the NHS trust was taken out of special measures a year after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ruled standards were inadequate.

A total of 14 recommendations have been made including further recruitment of doctors and nurses and checks on training to deal with patients with learning disabilities.

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

But concerns over a cluster of cases triggered outspoken criticisms from local GP leaders and heightened safety concerns among NHS chiefs in northern Lincolnshire and the East Riding.

Trust chief executive Karen Jackson said yesterday: “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.

“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 were not “systemic”, although in some cases it was clear there was a “failure of basic standards of nursing and medical care”. Patients had missed out on food and drink and in three cases staff faced internal disciplinary action and referrals to regulators.

Coun Jean Bromby, chairman of the health scrutiny panel at North Lincolnshire Council, said several recommendations concerned areas over which councillors had raised concerns “for at least two years and probably a lot more”. She said: “They assure me every patient has an hourly inspection but I’m not really sure how you can have an hourly inspection when people are not having nutrition and hydration.”

The GP-led North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are pleased to see the trust has started to take action to remedy some of the issues and will continue to work with and support the trust to ensure the lessons learnt and recommendations support the work that has commenced to make improvements in care quality.”