Tag Archives: Hospital

Hospital tells woman her mother is dead but calls later to tell her she is alive

A hospital told the family of a patient that she had died and allowed them to say their goodbyes only to telephone seven hours later to apologise and reassure them that their relation was still alive.

Phyllis Lilley’s daughter, Liz Page, 61, and her husband Gerry, 72, were too grief-stricken to notice that nurses had led them to the body of another woman to say goodbye.

Ms Page told the Sun newspaper: “I know it sounds ridiculous that we didn’t realise it was her body.”

Seven hours later however a hospital official telephoned to confess to the mix-up.

“I couldn’t believe it – I was angry and delighted at the same time,” said Ms Page.

“They said: ‘We’re very sorry you’re mother is not dead – she’s on another part of the ward’.

Emergency departmentEmergency department  Photo: ALAMY

“They said the woman who died had a similar name.”

Ms Lilley, 94, who had been admitted to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester following a stroke and was still alive on a nearby ward when her daughter and her husband called to pay their last respects.

“They said they were sorry to say my mum had passed away and asked if I wanted to see her. It was news I was expecting to hear.”

Ms Page said: “I didn’t sleep very well and at about 4.50am I had a phone call from the hospital.

“They said they were sorry to say my mum had passed away and asked if I wanted to see her. It was news I was expecting to hear.

“A nurse showed us into the cubicle. We were there about three or four minutes I suppose.

“I just said, ‘Goodbye’ and kissed her forehead and came out.

“I know it sounds ridiculous that we didn’t realise it was the wrong body. When you’re told your mum has died and you’re shown into a room, it just doesn’t enter your mind that it won’t be her.”

In a letter the hospital apologised and admitted checks had not been carried out. It declined to comment further.

Source The Telegraph

Hospital patients to be asked about UK residence status

Patients could be made to show their passports when they use hospital care in England under new rules introduced by the Department of Health.

Those accessing new treatment will be asked questions about their residence status in the UK.

Patients may need to submit passports and immigration documents when this is in doubt, the department said.

Hospitals will also be able to charge short-term visitors from outside Europe 150% of the cost of treatment.

The department said the new rules came into force on 6 April for overseas visitors and migrants who use NHS hospital care in England.

Primary care and A&E care will remain free.

There will also be financial sanctions for trusts which fail to identify and bill patients who should be charged, it said.

The plans are part of a crackdown on so-called “health tourism”.

Andrew Bridgen, the Tory MP for North West Leicestershire in the last Parliament, told the Daily Mail: “This is not the International Health Service, it’s the National Health Service.

“Non-UK nationals seeking medical attention should pay for their treatment.

“The NHS is funded by UK taxpayers for UK citizens and if any of us went to any of these countries we’d certainly be paying if we needed to be treated.”

Most foreign migrants and overseas visitors can currently get free NHS care immediately or soon after arrival in the UK but they are expected to repay the cost of most procedures afterwards.

The charges are based on the standard tariff for a range of procedures, ranging from about £1,860 for cataract surgery to about £8,570 for a hip replacement.

Non-UK citizens who are lawfully entitled to reside in the UK and usually live in the country will be entitled to free NHS care as they are now.

Sourced from the BBC Online

British medic declared free of Ebola

A UK military medic who has been discharged from hospital after being declared free of Ebola said it was thanks to medics that she is alive.

Cpl Anna Cross was the first person in the world to be given the experimental Ebola drug MIL 77, her doctors said.

Cpl Cross, aged 25, from Cambridge, caught the virus while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone.

During her illness she lost 22lb (10kg) and spent 14 days being treated at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

Doctors at the hospital said they were “absolutely thrilled” she had made a full recovery.

They described the drug she was given as a close relative of the medicine ZMapp – which British nurse William Pooley received when he was treated for Ebola.

Experts at the Royal Free said MIL 77 was made in China and that a limited supply was available, should anyone need it.

It is too soon to know what role the drug played in Cpl Cross’s recovery, they added.

‘Clinging on’

The army reservist thanked the team at the hospital, saying they were, in her opinion, “the best in the world”.

She said: “They are an incredible bunch of clinicians – incredibly skilled, incredibly dedicated and incredibly professional.

“Thanks to them I’m alive.”

The military medic had been working at the British Kerry Town treatment centre in Sierra Leone for three weeks before she became ill.

But Cpl Cross, who is an intensive care nurse in the UK, said an investigation had not been able to determine how she caught the virus.

‘Complete chicken’

When first told she had Ebola she said “it was really hard for a few hours”.

She added: “Then something within me just kicked in, as it does in difficult situations.”

But when it came to telling her family about the virus she was “completely chicken”.

The military sent people to support her relatives during this time.

Doctors said she is now completely free of Ebola after being cared for in an isolation unit.

But she added: “It’s going to take time until I can just be normal and get about my normal day. Then I have to be military fit, that might take months.”

Prof Jonathan Ball, a virus expert at the University of Nottingham, said: “This is fantastic news that another individual admitted to the Royal Free has recovered from Ebola.

“She was given an experimental drug, but it is impossible to say whether or not this directly contributed to her clearing the virus.

“In order to know whether a drug does work we need experimental trials and thankfully trials of various drugs are underway in West Africa, where Ebola virus is still doggedly clinging on.”

Ebola has claimed more than 10,000 lives across the worst-affected countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in the past 12 months.

Sourced from the BBC Online

Living with dementia: now we can say to the scared and frail: you needn’t be alone

John’s Campaign to allow carers to be on the wards with their loved ones gets official backing.

The times they are a-changing. The tide is turning. A culture that for so many years has been dominated by diagnosis and cure, targets met or targets failed, is softening.

The closed world of the hospital – a place of experts, of rules and systems and awesome bureaucracy – is opening up, letting the outside world flow in.

There’s a way in which we have come to think of doctors and nurses as part of the formidable medical endeavour to hold death at bay whatever the cost; death is the ultimate failure. Obituaries sometimes talk of people “losing the battle” against their illness. But it isn’t just a battle, it’s a certain destination, and we need to think of how we travel there, not just at what point we cross the threshold.

One of the crucial issues facing us now, with our ageing population and the growing number of people who have dementia, is how we live the last part of our life, how we care for those who are frail and powerless, how we will be cared for in our turn, when it is our time of need.

Yes is a very fine word, a word of optimism and of change. Last week, I went with my co-campaigners Julia Jones and Francis Wheen, and with our unflagging parliamentary patron Valerie Vaz to whom we owe so much, to the House of Commons. We wanted Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat minister for care and support, and Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, to pledge themselves to the aims of John’s Campaign: that the carers of those living with dementia should have the right to accompany them to hospital, just as parents do with their sick children.

We believe that within a few years it will be unimaginable that there was ever a time when this was not the case, and that baffled, vulnerable, often very scared people were left alone in a place that is intimidating for even the most robust of us. However wonderful nurses and doctors are – and they almost always are, overworked and tireless and kind, and also recognising the need for change – people with dementia need their experts in experience (if they are fortunate enough to have them in the first place).
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Hospital is a dangerous place for those who live with dementia. While there, they need nurturers as well as nurses; dignity and vigilant attention alongside the drugs. They need a familiar presence to keep them anchored to the world. My father’s leg ulcers were healed in hospital, but he came out like a ghost who haunts me still.

We went with documents and statistics, ready to argue the case. But yes, said Norman Lamb, almost before we began. He promised to write a letter to all hospital trusts promoting the idea. And yes, said Andy Burnham, who wants to strengthen the NHS constitution on this specific point, and has committed himself to adding it to Labour’s manifesto.

Both agreed that what we were asking for was a matter of common sense, practical necessity, decency and compassion – a rare instance where the costs in both financial and human terms are none and the benefits enormous. I could have wept with gratitude and relief.

The campaign began with a single story, told in this newspaper. People responded to it with a surge of kindness, for which I will be forever grateful, and of immediate recognition. There can be few in this country whose lives have not been touched, blighted, turned upside down, by dementia.

For three and a half months now, we have been hearing other people’s stories: stories of partners, children, friends, carers of all kinds; stories of loneliness, heartbreak, outrage, devotion, and of steadfast love, a love that holds on and endures.

We have had messages of mourning, that describe what it is like to be left with the legacy of knowing that your loved one died lonely, isolated and scared.

We’ve had messages praising particular hospitals, where the doors are opened and families made welcome. We’ve been given a glimpse into the hidden, unpaid workforce of carers.

Many of them have given up jobs to look after those they love, or certainly adjusted their working patterns. Many are deeply lonely and alone themselves – not just because it’s a scary truth that once a person has dementia, friends tend to drop away. Memory binds people together, gives them a shared history.

Relationships are built on memory, day by day. When it starts to fail, that intimacy of experience goes. There are thousands of people going through this solitary experience of loss – we need to find a way of giving them, giving each other, a sense of community. To say: you’ve done well. To say: it’s hard and sometimes you’ll be imperfect. To say: you are not alone.

But some of the stories have been joyful. For instance: at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, the terrific Lucy Frost (dementia champion and John’s Campaign champion too) showed me round a model ward – brightly painted, welcoming to carers, de-institutionalised, with a communal space – and told me about a patient who had had a birthday the previous day but received no visitors.

When asked for a gift idea, the patient requested a treacle tart, a reminder of the past. Lucy raced to a nearby shop and bought one, and the nurses and some of the other carers stood round the bed and sang Happy Birthday. There were, I think, tears of gratitude from the patient; certainly several other people wept.

This is what hospitals should be like: letting life into the closed spaces, letting kindness in, allowing the rescue impulse to flourish unimpeded, rather than muffling it with targets and regulations. A patient is not just an illness – a cancer or a fracture or an infection. A patient is a person, and precious right up to the moment of their death.

All the way through the campaign we have received an extraordinary amount of advice, help and support. People with no time have been unstinting with their time. I wish I could name names, but there are too many of them – a roll call of generous men and women working to make things better and change the way we think about old age, frailty and death.

For a long time there was a stigma about cancer. There is still a stigma about dementia. People hide it from their friends and from themselves, because it is scary and it feels in some way shameful: the diminution of control over one’s life, the self’s loss of the self, the mind’s disintegration and the solid ground breaking up. It is what we most fear for those we love and for ourselves, and so we often try to hide from it.

But that’s all changing: people living with dementia are bravely speaking and writing about it. It is the subject of films and plays and novels and poems. It is in everybody’s world now and unignorable. Many people’s stories have unhappy endings and many people die in hospital, alone and full of fear. This story can have a different ending, and it must.

Source The Guardian

Morecambe Bay Trust inquiry: Bereaved families braced for delayed report into maternity deaths

As many as 80 bereaved families are bringing legal negligence claims in an NHS scandal that is expected to provoke a political storm this week, when an inquiry into failings at three hospitals is published.

The claims involve babies and mothers having died or babies being born with severe disabilities at maternity units run by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) which operates maternity units in hospitals in Cumbria and Lancashire.

On Tuesday a long-awaited investigation into the trust is expected to name staff whose actions contributed to the deaths of mothers and babies and the severe disabilities of babies born at the three hospitals.
 
 
The investigation, ordered by Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has looked at dozens of cases between 2004 and 2012 and interviewed 100 people over the past 18 months. It has been chaired by Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, who previously led an inquiry into Jimmy Savile’s behaviour at Broadmoor Hospital.

It is understood that as many as 35 letters have gone out to individuals facing criticism in the report, giving them the opportunity to challenge the findings.

It is thought the Morecambe Bay units escaped attention because the babies died after being transferred across the north of England to other hospitals. This meant neo-natal death rates were misleadingly low in the UHMBT’s units, and some escaped scrutiny by coroners’ courts.

Carl Hendrickson, 47, lost his wife Nittaya, 35, and his newborn son Chester in 2008 at the trust’s Furness General Hospital. “If it was any other industry, people would be in jail,” he said. Nittaya had a heart attack after suffering a rare amniotic fluid blood clot while giving birth to Chester, who had brain damage. He died the next day.

The law firm Burnetts has advised numerous families, including James and Hoa Titcombe, whose son Joshua died in 2011.

“We’re going to be reading this report in 2015, about failures dating from 2004,” said Mr Titcombe. “Why are we reading about them so far down the road? The whole system at the time acted, I think, to keep bad news under wraps.”

More than 40 families have contacted Burnetts with concerns about the care they have received at Furness General Hospital. A second firm, Pannones, is believed to have received a similar number of complaints.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust is already £30m in debt and in special measures, with the Care Quality Commission due to return for an inspection in the next few weeks.

The report is expected to find that mothers and babies were put at risk because midwives and doctors were at loggerheads. It has been claimed nursing staff failed to alert doctors quickly enough about problem births.

But midwives have told investigators they were made to feel irrelevant by doctors, who pushed them aside during difficult labours.

The report is likely to say crucial medical notes exposing substandard treatment have been lost or destroyed, and to call for reforms in the way medical staff are held to account. The report was originally due by summer 2014, but was granted two extensions.

In 2012, a Care Quality Commission report found serious problems in the Morecambe Bay Trust’s A&E wards, including broken equipment and patients fainting from pain because of seven-hour waits.

Sourced from The Independent Online

You’ll be shipshape in no time! Tunisia unveils plans for giant hospital designed to look like a gigantic sailing vessel

You should certainly be feeling shipshape after a stay in this medical facility.
The White Sails Hospital & Spa is shaped like a sailing ship and has been earmarked to be built in the Tunisia Economic City (TEC).
Its designers are so keen to make it as authentically boat-like as possible that even the medical staff working there will be made to wear maritime uniforms. 
Architect and millionaire Vasily Klyukin says his design is ‘the most pleasant hospital in the world’, and a visit will feel ‘more like a cruise’ than a nerve-racking medical appointment. 
Vasily, a Russian businessman and co-founder of Sovcombank, a commercial bank, explains: ‘I was engaged in design and architecture since moving to Monaco two years ago. I was looking forward for this moment and finally it’s happening! My very first building to be constructed!’
 
Formally presented on 10 September, the Tunisia Economic City will be a modern city built over 55 square miles along the coast in the Enfidha area of the North African country, which has a strategic position in the heart of the Mediterranean.
The project will cost £30 billion, which project developers say is already available thanks to the participation of 50 donors and 30 countries.
One of the first buildings to be constructed over there will be the White Sails Hospital and Spa, which is expected to be realised jointly with international engineering company Thornton Tomasetti. 
The company Lalei Al Barakah Est. from Saudi Arabia will become an investor of this project.
The architect explains: ‘The main idea is to build a clinic, where people will feel the calmness and peacefulness, rather than experience the fear while visiting. 
‘The hospital will take care of the good mood and the healthy spirit. Visitors will feel themselves more like the guests during the cruise, rather than patients. Even the medical uniforms will be styled as marine uniforms.’
Vasily, who is set to be one of the first to blast into space after bidding on a Virgin Galactic seat at an AmFar charity auction, says: ‘I will fly into Space next year. My health condition has to be checked every six months. 
‘That is why I know this feeling very well: every time I’m approaching the white building of the clinic, I don’t feel any joy. 
‘But I would like to show you the hospital, where there is no room for fear. And so that my son could ask about this hospital: ‘Daddy, when will we visit the ship again?’
Source Mail Online

Pensioner, 68, is sent home from hospital with a collapsed LUNG, four cracked ribs and a broken collarbone

A pensioner was sent home from hospital with a collapsed lung, four cracked ribs and a broken collarbone after medical staff failed to investigate her properly.

Nora Daly was rushed to A&E at the Whittington Hospital in Archway, north London, after paramedics found her screaming in pain on the floor after she’d had a fall at home.

But her outraged family say she was given no X-rays or blood tests and sent home still in agony just hours later.

The true extent of her serious injuries only emerged the next day when she was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in nearby Hampstead.

Her furious daughter, Louise Daly, said: ‘Is this how we treat our most vulnerable people?

‘You hear horror stories about the NHS all the time.

‘But it still blows your mind when your loved ones are the victims of this kind of incompetence.’

The hospital has now apologised for the errors and launched an urgent investigation into Mrs Daly’s care.

Her daughter claims she went to see her mother at the hospital and was ‘stunned’ she hadn’t been properly investigated.

‘I went to pick her up from the Whittington to take her home and was surprised to find they didn’t X-ray her,’ she said.

‘My parents didn’t seem to have been given much information, so I assumed it must just be bruising.

‘But that evening mum was still in a lot of pain and couldn’t even lie down to sleep.’

‘The following day I stepped out to run some errands and when I came back, one of mum’s friends visiting her had called the ambulance because she was struggling to even breathe.

This time Mrs Daly, of Islington, north London, was X-rayed at the Royal Free’s A&E department.

Shocked medical staff found that the pensioner had suffered four cracked ribs, a broken collarbone and a collapsed lung. 

Doctors also discovered she had a pre-existing pneumonia infection and admitted her for treatment.

Mrs daly was rushed to a&e at the whittington hospital (pictured) in archway, north london, after paramedics found her screaming in pain on the floor at home

Mrs Daly was rushed to A&E at the Whittington Hospital (pictured) in Archway, north London, after paramedics found her screaming in pain on the floor at home

Miss Daly says the huge gulf in treatment and care between the two NHS A&E departments
left  her ‘shocked’.

She said: ‘My mother’s recovering from a stroke, fighting pneumonia and is old and frail – and they pushed her out the door without the most basic care.’

A Whittington Hospital spokesman said: ‘We are deeply sorry to hear about Mrs Daly’s experience.

‘We are taking the concerns raised extremely seriously and have launched an investigation into the care that Mrs Daly received whilst in our emergency department.’

Article was taken from Daily Mail Online

Is this hospital a miracle cure for the NHS? It has a Michelin chef, happy patients and is run by doctors and nurses. And shock, horror, it’s operated for the state – at a profit – by a private firm

Just imagine an NHS hospital whose standards match those of a top-quality hotel, with a welcoming reception area, polished floors, tasteful artwork on the freshly-painted walls, and menus inspired by a Michelin-starred chef.

A public hospital where the doctors and nurses — and even porters and cleaners — are free to decide what’s best for the patients, and to put good ideas into practice without waiting for the orders of some remote, out-of-touch mandarin.

Where the innovative working practices owe more to successful modern companies such as Toyota and Argos than a welfare state system created more than 60 years ago to cater for the needs of a very different Britain.

Hinchingbrooke hospital in huntingdon is run at a profit by its staff, with from left, surgeon andriy solodkyy, debbie stewart, head of nursing, dr mirza and surgeon ben miller

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon is run at a profit by its staff, with from left, surgeon Andriy Solodkyy, Debbie Stewart, head of nursing, Dr Mirza and surgeon Ben Miller

In a week when the failings of the NHS have again been laid bare, with hospital trusts begging for bail-out loans to pay for vital equipment, and discharging thousands of elderly patients during the small hours to ease the pressure on wards, it sounds like a pipe-dream.

Unlikely as it might seem, however, last week I visited just such a hospital.

For someone like me, who grew up during the halcyon days of social healthcare in the Fifties and Sixties and has lived through its decline with mounting despair, my day at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, was enormously uplifting.

And it was all the more remarkable because, barely three years ago, a health minister wrote off this same hospital as ‘a financial and clinical basket-case’, and placard-waving trade unionists were camped at the gates in protest against its seemingly certain closure.

Opened with great expectations in 1983 as one of the new wave of small, consultant-only hospitals, for a brief few years Hinchingbrooke had performed well enough.

But by the mid-90s, the quality of its service had faded along with its cheap, breezeblock façade.

John Major, the then-Prime Minister, was embarrassed by an acute bed shortage at the hospital just as he was proclaiming the NHS ‘safe in his hands’.

The hospital made headlines again soon after, when a supposedly dead woman came back to life in its mortuary; but as time marched on, and the Tories gave way to Labour, Hinchingbrooke itself seemed beyond miraculous revivals. 

The hinchingbrooke hospital opened in 1983 as a small consultant only hospital, but by the mid 1990s it had started to fail

The Hinchingbrooke Hospital opened in 1983 as a small consultant only hospital, but by the mid 1990s it had started to fail

A few years ago, standards in some departments were among the worst in the country. In A&E, patients languished for ages in a dank, garishly-painted waiting room, and treatment, when it came, was so haphazard that one toddler was sent home with an undetected broken leg.

The colorectal unit was worse still. During one botched operation, a surgical instrument was stitched inside a woman patient.

Entering the unit now, it is hard to believe its grim recent history. The first thing that struck me was the cheerfulness of the nurses. Then, written on brightly-coloured stars pinned to the noticeboard, I read the patients’ own glowing tributes, copied from the feedback forms they must now receive before discharge.

‘So much care and attention . . . environment light, clean and airy . . . food is brilliant . . . fantastic! Everybody was great.’

The transformation was summed up by staff-nurse Leighann Shoebridge, who has worked at Hinchingbrooke for 14 years. ‘It wasn’t very nice coming to work, to be honest,’ she says, recalling the hospital’s darkest days. ‘We faced staff shortages every day, and there was no back-up if we needed help.

‘Patients’ bells weren’t answered; medication records were poor.

‘I feel so much happier now — this is a totally different place today.’

And while ward matron Joanne Dixon admits the unit’s problems ‘aren’t completely resolved’,

71-year-old Gillian Peacock, due to be discharged that day after recovering from an infection, told me she would gladly stay longer.

So how has this spectacular turnaround happened? How has one hospital managed to shake off its ‘basket-case’ tag and flourish, while dozens more are failing to cope?

What has happened at Hinchingbrooke only serves to confirm the inefficiency of the National Health Service’s hidebound bureaucrats, with their sclerotic systems and outdated ideology.

In truth, its fortunes have been reversed by the entrepreneurial vision and energy of Circle Partnership — the private equity health company handed a ten-year, £1 billion contract to run it as a franchise under the NHS ‘brand’.Mortality levels, waiting lists and treatment times are down; patient and staff satisfaction levels up.

Last week, the 235-bed hospital’s achievement was recognised when it was voted the best in the country for quality of care.

Phil martin, 61, is one of the patients treated at hinchingbrooke hospital, cambridgeshire which has a michelin star trained chef on its books

Phil Martin, 61, is one of the patients treated at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridgeshire which has a Michelin star trained chef on its books

Visitors are greeted by landscaped grounds, facades of terracotta and smoked glass, and Scandinavian-style pinewood. A new critical care unit is on the way.

That Circle has come this far in just 27 months makes it all the more commendable. And it has done so while reducing its capital debts, and turning a £10million-a-year deficit into a predicted £2million profit this year — a figure expected to soar to £60 million by the end of their tenure.

Given that the NHS is expected to face a £30 billion shortfall by 2020, we might even think it is little short of miraculous.

When I asked Steve Melton, the company’s CEO, how it was done, the word most frequently on this 52-year-old former Argos, Faberge and Unilever executive’s lips was ‘empowerment’.

It was, he said, all about stripping away layer upon layer of management and red-tape that strangulates other NHS hospitals, and handing power back to the people who really understand the needs of the infirm: the frontline staff.

The average hospital trust is governed by a board of ten to 15 members, perhaps two of whom will be doctors or nurses — and often not practising. Between them and the clinical director are multiple tiers of middle-management through which front-line concerns and ideas permeate painfully slowly, if at all.

By contrast, 11 of the 15-strong board at Hinchingbrooke Hospital are practising clinicians, and there are no clipboard-wielding bureaucrats.  

In early 2012, when Circle — a John Lewis-style partnership of stakeholder workers and private investors — took the reins, it invited the 1,700 workforce to a half-day meeting and asked them to map out the hospital’s future.

Some 500 were too apathetic or sceptical about the company’s motives to attend. The majority showed up, however, and their goals, set out in a booklet handed to each staff member (or ‘partner’ as Circle prefers to describe them) now underpin the hospital’s ethos.

The hospital was taken over in 2012 by circle - a john lewis style partnership - has improved patient satisfaction ratings as well as medical outcomes

The hospital was taken over in 2012 by Circle – a John Lewis style partnership – has improved patient satisfaction ratings as well as medical outcomes

They include taking a pride in their work, striving to be the best, making the hospital safer and healthier, forging closer ties with the community they serve, and the ‘six Cs’: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.

The manifesto also makes it the duty of every employee to call a halt to any procedure immediately and raise the alarm if he notices something awry.

Devised by Toyota workers to prevent faulty cars from leaving the production line, this measure, known as ‘stop the line’, has already prevented a repeat of the surgical instrument fiasco.

As a patient was about to be stitched, a theatre nurse spotted that a swab was missing and stopped the operation — an act that would have incurred the consultant’s wrath under the old regime. It was duly found inside the open wound.

Other buzz-phrases have become the norm among Hinchingbrooke’s evangelical staff. When someone wants to rectify some problem, or improve efficiency, they might ‘swarm’ it by brainstorming with colleagues, or call an impromptu group ‘huddle’.

If all this creates a rather cultish ambience, it is plainly working. In the well-equipped maternity unit, the standard induction drug, prostaglandin, costing £27.95 per dose, is seldom used these days.

Instead, women are offered reflexology, aromatherapy and acupressure to speed up difficult labours — a gentler New Age method devised by one of the midwives.

In orthopaedics, I met Mr Arpit Patel, who came to Hinchingbrooke as a junior doctor in 1997, and now doubles as a consultant surgeon and hospital board member.

Before Circle, he said, the hospital was riven with divisions: ‘We thought the managers were all useless, and they thought we doctors weren’t working hard enough.’

At first, he was among the sceptics where Circle was concerned. But he decided to try the business-style methods the company was proposing.

By listening to his own staff and adopting their simple suggestions to get patients on and off the operating table quicker, he can now perform four operations a day, not three, and sometimes hits six.

‘What people don’t realise is that if I do three knees, the hospital makes about £800; but if I do just one more, that increases to £3,000, and if I do five we make £6,000 or £7,000. That is because staff costs stay the same and my operating time doesn’t change.

‘The whole staff feel they can really do things now. The NHS could learn tremendously from Circle’s approach to management.’

The mood was similarly buoyant in A&E, where staff have opted to wear theatre ‘scrubs’ rather than nursing uniforms, and name-tags so patients can identify them.

The hospital has undergone a dramatic refurbishment with landscaped grounds and a bright scandinavian pine interior

The hospital has undergone a dramatic refurbishment with landscaped grounds and a bright Scandinavian pine interior

They also use a colour-coded computer system (similar to that used to keep the tills working at Argos) to flag up outpatients who are waiting too long.

In the kitchen, head-chef Lisa Normanton, 46, cooks fresh, locally-sourced food instead of standard-issue frozen supplies, and takes inspiration from the company’s Michelin-starred head chef Andreas Wingert.

The restaurant-standard meals not only make patients happier. As ever with Circle, there is a financial benefit, too. Though they are more expensive — £10 a day as opposed to £7 — well-nourished patients tend to recover quicker and go home sooner.

Politicians on all sides are surprisingly reluctant to claim credit for Hitchingbrooke’s success. In a risible volte-face, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, who sanctioned the franchise during the last Labour government, now criticises it.

Why? Because the very idea that public services might operate more efficiently under private stewardship is anathema to Ed Miliband.

As for the Tories, who rubber-stamped the deal, they are under orders from their Australian election strategist, Lynton Crosby, to avoid at all costs the sensitive NHS debate and concentrate on the economy.

Were David Cameron to take a bold step and champion the wide-scale franchising of our failing hospitals, however, it could be a gamble worth taking —  revitalising, and perhaps even saving, the National Health Service.

Article was taken from Daily Mail Online

Ysbyty Gwynedd Hergest unit: Concerns raised by two doctors

Two senior doctors at a mental health unit in Bangor say they are concerned about the way it is being run.
The consultants at the Hergest psychiatric unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd said the health minister needed to take action over the way staff were being treated.
It follows two staff at the unit being sent home last year.
Betsi Cadwaladr health board said the correct procedures were being followed and it was listening to staff.
Doctors Prof David Healy and Dr Tony Roberts have written to Health Minister Mark Drakeford highlighting their concerns.
Consultant Dr Roberts, a former head of the unit, said some senior staff had questioned changes being made at the unit. When the changes were due to be implemented, the nurses in charge of the two main wards were asked to leave.
“They were away for some six weeks,” he added.
“During that time the wards were largely leaderless. Other people stepped in but did not know what they were doing. At that time about four of the consultants expressed concerns about safety issues.”
More than 40 workers at the unit complained to the health board after the two nursing staff were sent home, he said.
Another senior psychiatrist, Prof David Healy, said the two nurses were still waiting for an explanation about what happened.
“The nursing staff were only re-instated because essentially almost the entire staff at the Hergest unit – medical staff, nursing staff and others said: ‘Look this is just not acceptable,'” he added.

‘Staff relations’

In December 2013, Health Inspectorate Wales identified a number of problems with management at the unit and the health board devised an action plan to address them.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “We have listened to staff and will continue to do so.
“When a number of staff came forward with concerns last August, we instigated a comprehensive investigation in line with health board and Welsh government procedure.
“Whilst we cannot comment on any individuals that may have been involved we can confirm that the investigation has concluded, the outcome of which has been disseminated accordingly.
“We are doing a lot of work to improve staff relations and to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard.
“Staff training is being prioritised and improved and everyone is encouraged to participate in regular staff meetings so that planning and decision making is done at ward level.”
This article was taken from BBC online

There’s worse things than patients smoking outside hospitals

It is always concerning to hear of a highly complex situation reduced to a black-and-white argument in an attempt to win over the public. It’s concerning because it gets in the way of a genuine endeavour to understand the manifold issues involved. But it’s also concerning because it’s a con, an attempt to persuade people not with reason, but rather by gratifying our all-too-human hunger for easy answers.

In truth, there are few easy answers. The more you know about a subject, the more complicated it tends to become. And this is undoubtedly true about smoking and whether or not to allow it in and around mental health inpatient units.

Cards on the table: I used to smoke. At the height of my psychiatric career I smoked at least 20 a day, often more, as did virtually all my fellow patients, and staff. For the few non-smokers it must have been pretty well insufferable. At that time, you could smoke anywhere, except for a single “non-smoking” room, which nobody ever went into. Then you couldn’t smoke anywhere except for a single “smoking” room, which was always crammed.

By the time they brought in the “smoking” room, I had quit. You might think I would have been delighted but actually I was lonely. The air was clean, my clothes smelled fresh, but the ward was deserted. Loneliness is worse than smoke, so I started going into the smoking room, a tiny space whose walls, floor and ceiling were so sticky with tar it looked like the inside of a chronic smoker’s lung. It was highly companionable in the lung but also extremely smoky. I found that the only way I could breathe was to filter the smoke through a cigarette and so – after four years abstinence – I started smoking again.

Then they abolished the smoking room and patients who weren’t allowed off the ward unaccompanied (most of us) were obliged to wait until a member of staff was free to take us out. Members of staff on inpatient wards are not generally lacking in things to do. Patients, on the other hand, often have nothing to do. The result, a more or less permanent cluster of patients at the nurses’ station demanding to be taken outside; stressed-out staff, disgruntled patients and aggravation all round. But there were positives too. The chain-smoking culture of the wards was ended. Had this happened earlier, I might not have started smoking again (and have had to quit again). There are no easy answers.

Now the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is proposing that smoking should be banned outside hospitals as well. This effectively means that, unless allowed unaccompanied leave, mental health inpatients will be banned from smoking altogether.

Good thing, say campaigners. And about time too: smoking has no place in a therapeutic setting. While I’m not going to argue with the science of this, it does seem regrettable that the same voices are seldom heard campaigning for other essential elements of the “therapeutic setting”: decent, healthy food, for example, access to fresh air and exercise, talking therapies, even massage. None of which are provided on your average psychiatric ward.

According to Sue Bailey, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 90% of mental health patients who smoke would like to stop. “It may take them a little longer [to stop], but they can achieve it,” she said. That’s good to know. And of course it’s important that anyone who wants to stop should be able to access support to do so. But it’s also important to keep a sense of perspective. Compelling people to stop smoking at what is, almost by definition, one of the most stressful times in their life? Well, it certainly doesn’t seem black and white to me.

Source The Guardian