Clinical negligence headlines: 30.04.2018

Here are the main headlines that we’ve seen in the clinical negligence department this week. If you’ve been the victim of clinical negligence, or know someone who has, log on to www.claimtoday.com/negligence or call 08000 93 93 92.

Patients dying because staff missing signs of sepsis

Following on from last week’s blog, sepsis remains in the news…

The Telegraph reported that, according to NHS Improvement, patients could be dying of sepsis because ill-trained staff do not know how to spot the signs.

They go on to say “Officials have issued a safety alert after uncovering 100 deaths of hospital patients after failures to identify or act on symptoms of deteriorating health.”

NHS Improvement has urged all trusts to use a scoring system which is designed to ensure that acutely ill patients receive immediate help. The scoring system which staff are supposed to use was first introduced in 2012, and updated last year. However, two thirds of hospital trusts have not moved over to the updated system.

The English hospital safety incident notification scheme received 100 reports last year where deterioration may not have been recognised or acted on and the patient died. Of course, it does not automatically follow that all, or any, of these deaths would have been prevented but “the care provided did not give them the best possible chance of survival,” NHS Improvement said.

Lack of staff could close children’s ward at Pilgrim Hospital for months

This week, Lincolnshire Live reported that “Officials may temporarily close children’s in-patient and paediatric services at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital as part of an urgent review of services.”

United Lincolnshire Hospital’s Trust, which runs Pilgrim Hospital, has laid out five options for Pilgrim Hospital’s children services due to a shortage of qualified children’s doctors and nurses.

The article goes on to say that, should closing the childrens’ services be the preferred choice, it would have a knock-on effect on neonatal and maternity services and could lead to it being downgraded to midwifery-only, with high risk pregnant mums being referred elsewhere in the county.

This would obviously then have a knock-on effect to other hospitals and the services offered by them.

NHS England faces first legal challenge to plans for health shake-up

This week, NHS England faced a legal challenge to its plans to change how the health service operates, most notably the proposed introduction of ACOs, or “accountable care organisations”.

According to a piece in The Guardian, “If the changes go through then individual hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will no longer each receive an annual budget of their own. Instead NHS bosses would give a joint budget to pay for healthcare in whole areas of England to an ACO that would be made up of all the acute, mental health and other providers of NHS care locally.”

It adds “The case, which will be heard by the high court sitting in Leeds, is the first of two judicial reviews which judges have granted to explore the legality of ACOs. The other, which has been brought by a group including the late cosmologist Prof Stephen Hawking, will be heard in London on 23 and 24 May.”

It is clear that many people have concerns about ACOs, in particular about how an ACO will be accountable to the public, what the implications will be for NHS staff, as well as what the levels of private sector involvement will be.

This is a contentious issue and an area which we will return to in future blogs.

“The technique now needs to be tested in a much larger number of men to confirm just how well it can detect the aggressive cancers, while also ruling out those who do not have prostate cancer,” said Simon Grieveson, head of research funding at Prostate Cancer UK. “With an average of one man dying every 45 minutes from prostate cancer in the UK, the need for a more reliable test that can identify dangerous forms of the disease earlier is greater than ever.”

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