Saturday 30 May 2009

Scottish health staff 'too busy' to wash hands

A SENIOR Lothian health official has suggested some hospital staff are simply too busy to wash their hands.

NHS Lothian Health Board vice-chairman Eddie Egan was speaking as it emerged that in certain departments, almost a quarter of staff are failing to wash their hands regularly.

The simple hygiene measure is seen as a key tool in the fight against superbugs.
I reckon they may have a point here.

New figures show that while some Lothian departments hit 98 per cent "compliance" with handwashing, others were as low as 77 per cent. At the same time, board members were told, cases of the potentially fatal C.difficile bug have gone up in the last month.
Well, frontline staff being pressured by overwork might well result in such a problem.

Perhaps some in the NHS, employed in feet-on-the-desk admin jobs, should look very closely at themselves.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has demanded a "zero tolerance" approach towards handwashing compliance, though Dr Swainson said at the meeting: "I don't think we've fully worked out what zero tolerance means, but if you work for the NHS you are expected to follow our procedures, and this one particularly, to the letter."
Sturgeon orders more regulation, the medical director doesn't know what it means. Meanwhile ...

Handwashing compliance is monitored randomly by surveillance teams, who compile results from various departments across a range of time frames.
Just a thought, but why not employ more nurses instead of f***ing surveillance teams, and how about the medical director spending more time talking to the Health Secretary to ascertain what she is actually talking about?

Board members were told that in April there were 87 cases of C.diff, up from 72 in March and 59 February – which was the lowest number in five years.
Meanwhile, the percentage of NHS staff not tasked with treating patients spirals upwards. According to Private Eye (#1236 page 27).

In the old NHS days, administrative costs were no more than 5 percent of its annual budget. By the mid-90s they accounted for 12 percent. With subsequent wholesale market-based measures such as payments by results, patient choice and self-governing foundation trusts, coupled with the costs of management consultants, private finance initiatives, independent treatment centres etc, administrative costs have soared to 20 percent of the budget - about £20bn a year.
So how about having less talk about targets and more about nurses being able to do the job. More staff would, I dunno, help in that regard?

The will has to be there though, and it doesn't appear evident judging from the 'happy ending' in the linked article.

Despite the rise, bosses said it was still lower than the Scottish average, and that the health board is well on target to meet Scottish government targets when they come into play in 2011.
Source: The Scotsman

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Nurse 'silenced baby's heart monitor'

A nurse was struck off after she silenced the emergency alarm on a baby's heart monitor, it emerged today.

Nicola Waterfall ignored the six-month-old's alarm while working on the high dependency section of a ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital. A disciplinary panel of the Nursing and Midwifery Council found Miss Waterfall had been involved with previous incidents of "defective performance" and ruled she was still a "danger to the public".

The panel ruled the 31-year-old from north London was not fit to practice and she was struck off the register following the incident during a night shift in January 2006. Miss Waterfall turned off the baby's emergency alarm so she could talk to the parents of a child in another bed, the hearing was told.The alarm would only sound if the baby's heart level had fallen to a dangerously low level...

The panel said: "An emergency alarm was sounding because the baby's heart rate had fallen to a dangerously low level. Miss Waterfall's attention should have been fully occupied with her patient. Instead she seems to have given priority to the conversation she was having with the parents of the other child. She should not have taken her attention away from her patient, even for a short period. "The alarm was sounding at its highest level, indicating an emergency. Miss Waterfall turned to silence the alarm, then turned back to the parents and continued to talk to them."

Between 2001 and 2006 Miss Waterfall had been involved in "numerous serious incidents of defective performance", the hearing was told. The panel said: "Some of these have endangered the lives of the patients under her care. The hospital seems to have given her every possible support to improve her practice."

Miss Waterfall did not attend the hearing.
Source: The Metro

110 people died of malnutrition in Scottish hospitals last year

RECORD numbers of Scots are dying of malnutrition while in hospital.

Figures released yesterday showed 110 people died across the country last year - sparking calls for an investigation into hospital food.

The figures did not give the ages of people who died but it is understood the vast majority were elderly.

And 1884 people were discharged from hospital suffering from malnutrition.

Scots Tory public health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: "News that so many people are suffering and dying from malnutrition while in the care of the NHS is a matter of considerable concern.

"Having to attend hospital is concern enough for patients and their families.

"The last thing they need is additional worries about the nutritional content of meals."

The highest death toll was in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, where 24 people died. There were 17 deaths in Lothian and 17 in Fife.

The total hit 110 once before, in 2006. More than 1000 people have died in Scots hospitals from malnutrition since 1998.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon released the figures in answer to a parliamentary question.

She said: "These figures may be an undercount of the true number of cases because malnutrition as an underlying reason for admission to hospital or cause of death may not always be recorded."

She said figures for the number of malnutrition deaths in care homes were not collected.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

New mother deaths 'probably linked'

It is "extremely unlikely" that the deaths of two new mothers are not linked, an expert has said.

Mark Enright, professor of molecular epidemiology at Imperial College, London, said he had concerns after two women died from the same infection after giving birth on the same day in the same hospital.

Teachers Amy Kimmance, 39, and Jasmine Pickett, 29, both gave birth at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester on December 21. After they were discharged, Mrs Kimmance, who had a girl, died on December 23 and Mrs Pickett, who had a boy, died on December 24. Both women died from complications caused by a group A streptococcal infection.

The Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust has said investigations so far show their deaths were coincidental. A spokeswoman said that Mrs Kimmance developed fatal toxic shock syndrome as a result of a group A streptococcal infection while Mrs Pickett died from a sudden onset of severe pneumonia, likely to have been caused by a group A streptococcal infection.

Prof Enright said it was possible the deaths were not linked, but he believed there was a high chance they were. He said: "If you look at the national figures, you are talking about around 100 women dying after giving birth in the UK every year."

The chances of two women dying after giving birth on the same day in the same hospital from the same infection were very small, he said. "It's extremely unlikely in my view that they are not linked," he said.
Source: The Metro.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

NHS criticised for Baby P errors

A catalogue of failings by the NHS meant a series of opportunities that could have saved Baby P's life were missed, the health regulator says.

The toddler, who has now been named as Peter, was seen by health services 35 times before his death in August 2007. Two doctors involved in his care have already been suspended. But the Care Quality Commission said services across Haringey in London were poor, prompting an apology from the NHS trusts involved.
I'm not sure whether we should take this seriously, actually. The Quality Care Commission arejust a brand new quango who will obviously need to raise their profile by shoving their nose in where it's not wanted, but hey.

Source: BBC

Editorial add on from Henry North London

There is a memo or email that was sent round Haringey Council that it was too expensive to take children into care. Old Holborn has a copy of this email and poor Lynne Featherstone is still trying after 6 months to get it on Freedom of Information.

Monday 11 May 2009

NHS bosses 'ignore whistleblowers'

Whistleblowing nurses who raise concerns about patient safety are being ignored by NHS managers, union leaders have warned.

More than one in five (21%) have also been told by their superiors not to report concerns in their workplace or have been discouraged from doing so, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Speaking on the first day of its annual conference in Harrogate, RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said nurses feared being "victimised" if they spoke up.

One nurse told how she had been marginalised for raising fears over patient safety and for failing to "go with the flow" in her NHS trust.

A survey of 5,428 nurses for the RCN found that 99% understood it was their professional responsibility to raise concerns yet only 43% would be confident to report them without thinking twice.

Almost eight in 10 (78%) said they feared being victimised or seeing a negative effect on their career if they spoke out about poor practices on patient safety... fewer than one in three (29%) nurses said their employer had taken immediate action to resolve the situation while 35% said no action was ever taken.
Source: The Metro

Thursday 7 May 2009

Patient 'found dead in hospital lavatory after three days'

From the Telegraph

The man, 22, allegedly suffocated himself in the cubicle, and was only discovered on Wednesday when a nurse asked a colleague to break open the door when she sensed something was wrong.

He was reported as missing on Saturday from Watford general Hospital's acute admissions unit.
According to The Sun he had been admitted as a voluntary patient, was not believed to have had serious mental health issues and had not been sectioned.

A statement from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said police had launched an investigation into the incident.

It said: "We are unable to provide more detail at this time due to patient confidentiality but can confirm that we are treating this extremely seriously.

"We are carrying out a thorough internal investigation surrounding the circumstances of this incident and when this is complete we will issue a further statement, if appropriate."

A police spokeswoman said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

She said: "We were called to Watford General hospital at 5am, following the discovery of a man's body in a locked toilet cubicle.

"We have informed the coroner and are working with the hospital to establish the course of events around this incident.

"We have been in contact with his family and obviously our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

I have to say this takes the biscuit. Were the toilets not inspected by the cleaners or the nurses? for three days? Sensed is wrong... he probably smelt bad after three days in hospital temperatures.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Nurse sues own hospital over hysterectomy

A nurse is suing the hospital where she works after a hysterectomy operation almost killed her.

Susan Melo developed blood clots in her lungs – which fewer than two per cent survive – hours after she was discharged without anti-clotting medication.

She also alleged health bosses tried to stop her making a formal complaint. 'It makes me ashamed I belong to this kind of organisation,' said the 47-year-old, 'If I hadn't been a nurse I would have died.'

Mrs Melo, of Kentish Town in north London, was discharged from the nearby Whittington Hospital last month. But later she was taken back and doctors found large clots had moved from her leg to her lungs.

A spokeswoman at the hospital confirmed bosses were investigating and apologised.
Source: The Metro.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

GP's outrage over father's death

A GP whose father was accidentally given a lethal overdose by a German doctor providing out-of-hours NHS care has called for changes to the service.

Dr Daniel Ubani gave David Gray 10 times too much painkiller while working for a Cambridgeshire health trust.

He was given a nine-month suspended sentence in Germany for negligence over the death of Mr Gray, 70, in 2008.

Mr Gray's son Stuart, of Kidderminster, Worcs, said the "risks" of out-of-hours doctor services should be made public.

Dr Ubani came to the UK to make extra money and told investigators he was tired after his week working in cosmetic surgery in Germany.

Mother killed after care failures

A catalogue of failures in the care of a mental health patient who stabbed a pregnant mother-of-five to death have been highlighted in a new report.

Benjamin Holiday, 25, a paranoid schizophrenic, killed Tina Stevenson in Hull after missing his medication.

An independent investigation found his mental health problem was "under-treated" and his condition should have been "more assertively managed".

Humber Mental Health Trust has apologised to Miss Stevenson's family.

Miss Stevenson, 31, and her unborn twins died after she was stabbed in the back by Holiday on Wellsted Street.

Holiday, who said he had no recollection of the attack, pleaded guilty to her manslaughter at Hull Crown Court in May 2006 and was detained in a secure hospital.

Oh dear here we go again...'Lessons learned'

Projects will end mixed sex wards

More than 700 projects are planned across 200 health trusts in England as part of a drive to eliminate mixed sex accommodation in hospitals, Health Secretary Alan Johnson has announced.

Building work has started to create new bathrooms, partition walls and other measures to provide male and female patients with separate toilets and sleeping areas.

In January, the Government pledged to stop paying hospitals for the care of patients in mixed-sex wards unless it could be clinically justified. Mr Johnson said that from 2010/11 hospitals which failed to protect patients' privacy would be penalised financially.

The Department of Health revealed that some improvement works started in April after a £100 million "privacy and dignity fund" was allocated to all Strategic Health Authorities in England.
A few thoughts:

1. Twelve years on, and they still haven't sorted this out?

2. If they "penalise hospitals financially", who ends up paying? And why don't they say "fine"?

3. £100 million is about 0.1% of the annual NHS budget.

Source: The Metro.

Sunday 3 May 2009

Britain's largest NHS trust conned out of £250k by a taxi firm

A courier firm swindled the NHS out of £250,000 for journeys that never happened.

An average of 20 journeys were faked EVERY DAY, and the scam lasted for more than 18 months. The minimum charge for each journey was £8.60. But some cost cashstrapped hospitals £109 a time.

In one instance Villas's fake ID was used to charge £73.20 to take a patient with lung disease just two miles home. In fact, the trip had been cancelled hours before because the patient was too ill to travel.
This begs a couple of questions.

Firstly, considering the Imperial College NHS Trust is the largest in the country with an £800m budget, is it too much to ask that they might employ an internal auditor to discover invoice fraud over 18 months, instead of needing to be notified by a national newspaper after a tip-off from a whistle-blower (who was ignored by his NHS managers)?

Secondly, wouldn't it be more cost-effective for a trust with an economy of scale, and a large client base, to have a direct labour organisation (ambulances, for example) to carry out the transportation instead of farming it out to a taxi firm with such high charges?

Oh yeah, and another question.

Despite the fraud being discovered, Lewis Day will carry on working for Imperial College NHS Trust because it is tied into a contract.
Err ... who drew up a contract of such magnitude that didn't allow for instant cancellation in the event of proven fraud?

I know the answers - it's not their money, why should they care?

Source: The Mirror