Hospital care reviewed

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

PATIENT safety will be at the heart of new measures to be introduced at Wigan hospitals in the wake of the public inquiry into the neglect and abuse at Stafford Hospital.

Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) along with all other hospital trusts will have to abide by new recommendations following a report by Prof Don Berwick, US President Barack Obama’s former health adviser, said problems existed “throughout” the system.

He said a series of cultural changes were needed, but also recommended criminal sanctions in extreme cases.

Prof Berwick said charges should be applied where organisations misled regulators or in the rare cases in which “wilful or reckless neglect” by organisations or individuals had harmed patients.

But he stopped short of calling for a duty of candour, which would compel the NHS to inform patients of any errors made in their care.

The Government will respond to the review in detail at a later date.

But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would be seeking to act on the recommendations.

However, WWL, which runs Wigan Infirmary, Leigh Infirmary and Wrightington Hospital says it welcomes the recommendations and say some measures are already in place at their hospitals.

A spokesman said: “WWL is fully supportive of the view that patient safety must be the top priority in the NHS and that there should be a zero tolerance approach to harm. This reflects the standard which WWL strives to achieve and is reflected in our quality strategy.

“WWL has been engaged in the national harm free care programme since early 2011 and uses the NHS Safety Thermometer to measure harm from falls, pressure ulcers, urinary tract infection in patients with a urinary catheter and venous thromboembolism.

“A number of improvement programmes have been undertaken to improve patient safety and prevent harm to patients in hospital, including a harm free ward programme involving every ward in our three hospitals. A system of hourly rounding is in place on all wards to ensure each patient’s care is reviewed by a nurse at least once each hour.

“All cases of harm are thoroughly investigated so that causes can be found and lessons learnt and each case of serious harm is reviewed by an executive director.”