Monday, February 09, 2009

Equipment shortage at major NHS children's hospital killed baby

The parents of the five-week-old baby who died from a suspected hospital blunder believe her death may have been caused by a lack of equipment at London's world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital. Poppy Davies was admitted for a minor operation on Friday, January 9, but was left brain-damaged and paralysed after a junior nurse administered an overdose of glucose. She died last Sunday after her parents had her life-support machine switched off.

Poppy's father, David Daly, 21, has now told The Mail on Sunday: 'Staff told us someone was using the wrong piece of equipment because the right one wasn't available.'

An inquest was opened and adjourned last Thursday, and Mr Daly and his partner, Carly Davies, 22, must wait until May to find out exactly how their daughter died. Carly, from Grays, Essex, said: ' It's Great Ormond Street and knowing they've helped so many other children makes it difficult to be too angry. Mistakes can be made but you can't afford to make mistakes in circumstances like this.'

Poppy was born prematurely at Basildon Hospital, Essex, but moved to Great Ormond Street for surgery to close a blood vessel in her heart. The operation went well but the next day she was allegedly given up to 75 times the recommended dose of glucose solution.

Her father, a fireplace fitter, said: 'We want to find out what happened but nothing's going to bring her back.' Last night a spokesman for Great Ormond Street said: 'We're investigating a number of possibilities as to what went wrong.'


Australia: New South Wales public hospital's $75m in unpaid bills

NSW public hospitals have officially hit rock bottom, producing their worst financial results on record. The NSW Health annual report, to be tabled in Parliament next month, reveals all the State's health services blew their budgets during 2007-08, plunging them into unprecedented debt. In total, health services overspent by $159.4 million - a result 500 per cent worse than in the previous year. Despite this, patients are being forced to wait longer for beds and more medical mistakes are being made.

The disastrous results have prompted the State Government to declare a crackdown on spending and tighter monitoring of budgets. But staff cutbacks [not including "essential" personnel such as clerks, managers and "administrators", of course] are likely to have a detrimental impact on services to patients this financial year. The Northern Sydney and Central Coast regions sank deepest into the red, racking up debts of $63.3 million - more than double the total health service overspend in 2006-07. The debt-laden Greater Western and North Coast area health services each went over budget by about $30 million.

Unpaid bills also reached new highs, leaving businesses that supply hospitals struggling to stay afloat. The value of accounts not paid within a benchmark of 45 days skyrocketed from zero in 2007 to $75.1 million in 2008. South Eastern Sydney Illawarra was the worst offender, owing creditors $24.3 million. Greater Western had not paid $20.9 million and Greater Southern accumulated bills of $12.7 million. This is the worst level of creditor payment on record -- and the figure has increased since results were compiled. Last week, NSW Health admitted the total amount owed to creditors was now at $117.5 million.

The report also revealed worrying slumps in key performance indicators. One in four patients waited more than 30 minutes to be offloaded from an ambulance at emergency departments. This transfer, described as "a challenge", is supposed to be as quick as possible to improve a patient's chance of survival and ambulance efficiency. Nearly a quarter of emergency department patients waited more than eight hours for an inpatient bed.

Mistakes are also on the rise. There were 583 serious safety incidents "in which death or serious harm to a patient has occurred", the highest figure in at least five years. NSW Health claimed, however, this was because of a change of definitions and better reporting. There were also more incorrect procedures, including surgery mistakes, and more deaths of hospital patients in falls.

Overall, NSW Health's expenses amounted to a record $13.12 billion in 2007-08 - nearly $36 million a day.


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