Tony Cunningham MP demands answers on clinical negligence

April 25, 2012 · Posted in Health · Comment 

MP Tony Cunningham of Workington has revealed that he is demanding answers following seven deaths which took place in two of North Cumbria’s main hospitals in what he has described as ‘extremely disturbing and worrying’ circumstances. Fearing the worst regarding these untoward incidents, Mr Cunningham is demanding investigations into clinical negligence.

Documents which were leaked to BBC Radio Cumbria have revealed that over a seven-week period during September and October last year, four patients died as a result of falls at the Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital.

The three other deaths have been labelled as high-level or serious untoward incidents causing Mr Cunningham to fear clinical negligence. One patient was attached to a telemetry machine which had a flat battery, another patient who was diabetic became unresponsive and passed away and the third left the ward to later be found dead caused by a serious untoward incident. In the same documents leaked to the BBC, another near-drowning incident was also uncovered.

Mr Cunningham has demanded the chief executive of the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust to get answers about the seven deaths and to find out what they are doing about ensuring such incidents do not occur again. Mr Cunningham has said that if he does not get answers from the Trust “I’ll call for a public enquiry” by taking matters to the Secretary of State for Health. “It is extremely disturbing and worrying and we need to find answers quickly as to what’s gone wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

The documents leaked to the BBC were revealed through the Freedom of Information Act which showed that in September and October 2011 there were 29 falls in the two hospitals. In 2010 during the same period, there were just nine. Inquests are being carried out into the deaths of the four patients who fell.

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Are NHS waiting list targets bad news for patients?

January 31, 2012 · Posted in Health · Comment 

The NHS is a colossal institution, and the number of patients that must be treated by it is unimaginable. Because of this, it is a massively over burdened institution. Not only does it have to account for, and make sure all its staff are behaving professionally; it also has the mammoth task of making every patient feel well looked after, and helping as many as they can, as quick as they can.

And what’s more, this has to be done on an extremely limited budget. There are so many treatments that would help save lives, that cannot be used by the NHS due to lack of money. All of this, coupled with the lack of space, means that often really ill people are forced to wait on waiting lists to get the treatment they need. One in which people have tried to tackle this problem is by putting targets in place for how long a patient should have to wait, or how long waiting lists should be.

This method of tackling the issue is not helpful, however. It is the medical professionals, the doctors and nurses, who know how best to treat their patients. They will not, therefore, treat people for longer than they have to, for they know there are people waiting to be treated just outside the door, so to speak. And yet, ministers interfere and put down unrealistic targets, which threaten punishment for those who fail to meet them, and which can only be met by falling short of the quality of care required.

I’m sure you have seen headlines in the past about the fact that people have been taken off waiting lists in order to keep within targets set. Another way in which targets have been met is by treating people faster, and with less caution than is required. If the professionals were to treat people how they saw best, the waiting lists would not meet the targets set.

In short, if there is not enough money or resources, then only a certain amount of people can be treated at one time. Placing targets onto professionals to try and increase the amount of people seen over time, will not change how much resources there are, and will only serve to compromise care.

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How does the UK’s medical negligence record compare with other countries?

December 24, 2011 · Posted in Health · Comment 

The NHS is a very big organisation with hundreds of locations across the UK and almost one and a half million employees working in them. With so many hospitals and staff the NHS is able to treat thousands of patients every day. With treating so many people each day though there is always the risk that someone will do something wrong which will result in injury or even death. These occurrences are somewhat expected but recently they have reached an all-time high in the UK.

A number of recent reports have shown that the UK’s medical negligence cases are extremely high with around 8000 deaths as a result in the last 13 years. This number is only those cases which resulted in death and this makes up a very small percentage of the total number of negligence cases.

Medical negligence cases in the UK have been on a constant increase since 1997 when the 223 instances resulting in death were recorded. Comparing that figure to 2010 when 903 people died there has been an increase of 300 per cent. Although the NHS has been widely criticised it isn’t only the UK which has a problem. America has terribly high medical negligence numbers too.

Medical negligence in America was investigated in 2000 and it was revealed that each year around 1,000,000 people were injured or became ill because of medical negligence. Further to this a staggering 44,000 to 98,000 deaths every year occurred because of the problem. Since the study took place these figures have only got worse too.

This problem is also large in Australia as they also have a high number of medical negligence cases each year. On average Australia has each year around 18,000 deaths, 50,000 permanently injured and a further 80,000 who end up hospitalised as a result of being given incorrect medication. Although figures for medical negligence are high in the UK, it isn’t just us who perhaps need to make some major changes in health care.

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