Medical negligence risk flagged up by staff at NHS Trust

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Concerns about the risk of medical negligence which may be putting patients’ lives at risk have been raised in a staff log at two hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven in Cumbria.

Hospital Complaints

The allegations of unsafe practices focus on hospital logs kept in April and published in Medical Weekly Reports Live, which record that a patient’s oxygen supply was turned off and Accident and Emergency (A&E) procedures might have been unsafe.

The hospitals at the centre of potential medical negligence concerns are the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

A report logged on 16 April for the Cumberland Infirmary describes “lack of beds” and a lack of staff and monitors, “with paramedics monitoring a pregnant patient in a corridor”.

The day before, the report describes the department as “not even meeting basic nursing care for patients" and “dangerous”.

In a further report on 22 April, a member of the medical team reported to a manager that the department was “unsafe” and it was also logged that “patients would be in corridor as no beds identified”.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust has said that it is investigating the reports although the reported logged suggest that at the time concerns raised by medical staff were not addressed – even when they rang the deputy director of nursing themselves to flag up serious issues and failings in the department.

Other issues raised included staff shortages, lack of cots and special mattresses used to relieve pressure wounds or sores.

A retired hospital inspector who previously worked for the Healthcare Commission inspected the logs and said they should have set “alarm bells ringing”.

Dr Heather Wood said.

“What jumps out is a worry about what's called the emergency care pathway – patients coming to A and E. Are they being seen and treated quickly, and admitted appropriately?”

The trust said that the issues logged were currently being investigated “very openly and transparently, to make sure that we learn lessons where we need to improve the care for patients".

The trust also said that recently there had been an increase in A&E admissions, putting staff under pressure.

In 2011, staff at the hospital said a cash shortage in the trust was putting patients at risk, although the trust denied patient care was suffering.


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