Saturday, April 15, 2006


They would be even more financially destroyed than they already are if all such cases were successfully sued. There should be more of it. The award is still only a fraction of what would have been obtained in the USA, however

A hospital trust was fined 100,000 pounds yesterday after it admitted failing to supervise doctors at a hospital where a man died after a routine operation. Sean Phillips, 31, died from toxic shock syndrome after a knee operation at Southampton General Hospital. Despite his high temperature, high pulse rate and low blood pressure, doctors left in charge of Mr Phillips failed to diagnose the condition or seek help after making eight assessments over two days in June 2000.

Mr Justice Cresswell, sitting at Winchester Crown Court yesterday, described the breach as an "extremely serious offence" that had resulted in a tragic and unnecessary death. He said that medical care was a "solemn duty" that the doctors, and the hospital, had failed to perform. "Common sense dictates that a reasonable standard of care must pertain seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year," he said. "A fine, healthy and much loved person has died unnecessarily. Anyone listening to this matter can have nothing but the deepest sympathy for the family and friends of Sean Phillips." Southampton University Hospitals Trust was also ordered to pay 10,000 pounds in costs.

Amit Misra and Rajeev Srivastava, two senior house officers, were convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence at Winchester Crown Court in 2003. Both were sentenced to eighteen months in prison, suspended for two years. In a rare move, the Crown Prosecution Service then charged the trust. During the hearing this week the court was told that Mr Phillips was admitted to Southampton General Hospital to repair torn knee ligaments. The operation went well and he was expected to leave the next day but an infection set in and toxins built up in his body. Despite the clear indications of deteriorating health, Misra and Srivastava failed to diagnose the condition or seek help and advice from senior doctors even though they visited Mr Phillips eight times over two days.

The court was also told that in the days before Mr Phillips died there had been concerns about the competence of senior house officers in the trauma and orthopaedic department where Mr Phillips was being treated. On the day that he died a senior nurse had sent a report about the concerns, involving Misra in particular, to a consultant. Other senior doctors admitted that they had little direct contact with senior house officers and left it to senior registrars and nurses to deal with problems.

Hywel Jenkins, for the prosecution, said that if the hospital had organised daily visits by a registrar the chances of Mr Phillips's condition being missed would have been lessened. Richard Lissack, QC, said that the trust was not responsible for the death and that it had quickly set up an automated early-warning system to monitor patients' vital signs and trigger an automatic response. There had been a change in the training of senior house officers and improvements in communication, including thorough ward rounds or advice seven days a week by senior doctors. Mark Hackett, the chief executive of the trust, which overspent by 6 million pounds last year, said that it had not yet decided whether to appeal.


The number of hospital jobs cut in the NHS could reach 24,000 according to a new analysis

Since the NHS has over a million employees, this does not mean much of itself. But it is care-deliverers who will be cut, not bureaucrats, so it will be noticeable

Job losses over the past month now exceed 6,000, after news of the 200 posts cut by York Hospitals NHS Trust. Yesterday it emerged that health chiefs at East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust had approved plans to cut 160 beds at five hospitals. A quarter of the trusts thought to have serious financial problems have announced job cuts so far.

The Liberal Democrats said last night that, on current trends, job losses could reach 24,000. Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "Every day brings further news of more job cuts which will undoubtedly affect frontline patient care. Staff morale and public confidence in the NHS will continue to crumble until ministers take action to reverse this trend. "Money is being wasted on a costly and damaging permanent revolution in the health service. Taxpayers' money is also being spent paying the private sector over the odds for treatments in order to hit waiting-list targets. Meanwhile, trusts are being forced to make short-term cuts to tackle problems that have built up over decades. "What is needed is long-term planning in the NHS, not a series of short-term initiatives and sudden policy shifts."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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