Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fabulous! NHS Hospitals must publish details of every complaint against them

All hospitals in England will have to publish the number and details of complaints that they receive. The Department of Health said that this was necessary to prevent a repeat of lapses that occurred at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Between 400 and 1,200 more people died at the trust than would have been expected in a three-year period because of a “lamentable failure of clinical leadership”, two official reviews concluded yesterday. A change of culture was needed at the trust and across the wider NHS to place more emphasis on “patient and public power”, they said.

The Department of Health said that complaints received by each trust in England would be published on the NHS website.

An investigation this year by the Healthcare Commission uncovered the unusually high death rates reported by the Mid Staffordshire trust between 2005 and 2008, in particular at Stafford Hospital’s accident and emergency department. Follow-up reviews found that patients’ views were not taken seriously enough and local and regional health authorities failed to check properly on standards of care. The commission report, published in March, concluded that care and management at the hospital were so poor that receptionists were carrying out initial checks at A&E.

Ministers responded by ordering two reports — one covering the current standard of care at the hospital and the other by David Colin-Thomé, the national director for primary care. Dr Colin-Thomé said: “The events of Mid Staffordshire trust have disturbed us all. What has particularly shocked and disappointed me is that no NHS organisations, staff or representatives of the public reported any serious concerns about emergency services in the hospital.”

The other report, by Sir George Alberti, the national director for emergency care, said that while £3.8 million had been invested in new staff, recruitment and training in the past 12 months, there were still shortages of surgeons and nurses.


Australia. Another Queensland Health disgrace: Rodent attack on elderly patient foreseen but nothing done

QUEENSLAND Health knew about a mouse plague in a Darling Downs nursing home three months before the rodents gnawed a war veteran's head on Anzac Day. As the Federal Government demanded action on the scandal at the Karingal aged care home attached to the Dalby Hospital, it emerged that a second elderly man was also attacked at the facility last week. Queensland Health yesterday said extra staff, traps and bait had now controlled the rodents.

Staff initially began demanding action against the infestation in early February. It is another shameful episode within the embattled Health Department, highlighted by recent bungles involving staff housing security before and after a Torres Strait nurse was sexually assaulted in February last year.

The Digger [vet], 89, who served in New Guinea during World II, was resting on Saturday when his face, neck and ears were "severely chewed" by the rodents. His daughter, who only wished to be known as Julie said her father tried to brush the mice away but ended up covered in blood, with 10 cuts. She said her father was so distressed he required morphine and almost died. "You know that the inevitable is inevitable but you do not want mice to be the catalyst," Julie said.

Queensland Health last night confirmed the wife of the other patient told staff on Monday her elderly husband had been bitten on Friday. "When staff were notified they sought to treat the wound on the man's forearm but were unable to find a lesion," a Health spokeswoman said.

The revelations emerged three days after Queensland Health issued a media release about the plague which failed to mention the weekend attack. Deputy Premier Paul Lucas is the latest Health Minister to be left clueless about his department's failings. "The simple point of this is I found out about this this morning," Mr Lucas said yesterday. "I am told it happened a few days ago. It is not acceptable that I found out this morning. I would like to apologise that this incident took place."

The Digger's daughter said staff at the facility had repeatedly demanded radical action from the department against the infestation in February. "My understanding is that since the end of February staff – who have been marvellous in caring for my father – have recognised there is an issue that should be dealt with," Julie said.

She complained to Liberal National Party MP Ray Hopper, who asked Mr Lucas in a letter on Wednesday to order a neighbouring paddock be poisoned to supplement other control measures in place in the nursing home and hospital. But because the state-owned paddock has been zoned commercial/residential the use of an agricultural strength chemical lethal to mice is banned.

Queensland Health asked the Dalby Regional Council to rezone the land rural for 24 hours so the land could be sprayed, Mayor Ray Brown said. "We could not do that," he said. "Imagine the brouhaha if we bent the rules to accommodate Queensland Health." He said Queensland Health had wrongly claimed that council was responsible for the issue.

National Seniors Australia chief executive Michael O'Neill said: "Authorities need to realise our oldest citizens have been exposed to risk and someone should just get on and fix it."


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