Patients ‘worse’ following hospital delays

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One patient has died and hundreds of others have seen a deterioration in health after thousands of appointments were delayed at an NHS Trust.

Last year, 19,000 patients at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust saw delays in their outpatient appointments.

The Trust, which runs Furness General Hospital, the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Westmorland General Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital, said that all patients have since been seen but 663 patients “may have been affected to some degree” by the delay.

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said he knew of one cancer patient who died after a delay.

After a four- or five-month delay, doctors found her stomach cancer had spread and she later died.

The news comes as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) released a damning report about the Trust.

The CQC said that patients “remained at risk of poor care” at the Trust – particularly when they visited the hospital in urgent need.

CQC investigators, who visited the trust between January and March this year, noted long delays in accident and emergency and a lack of regard for the privacy and dignity of patients in mixed-sex wards.

Staffing levels were “inadequate”, and there were failures in the monitoring of patients and unnecessary delays in discharging patients.

Patients were also moved frequently from one ward to the next and there was an inconsistency in the medical review of patients.

Investigators found a dislocation between senior managers and doctors.

The Royal Lancaster and Furness General Hospital were not meeting national targets to admit, discharge or transfer patients in emergency wards within four hours.

As a result of the investigation, the CQC issued the trust with warnings over its use of mixed-sex wards and failings in the way patients were monitored.

However, investigators noted that recent changes in management have resulted in actions to address many issues highlighted in the report.