Payout over patient neglect at the Alex

By Ian Dipple Sunday 23 December 2012 Updated: 03/01 10:47

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THE Trust which runs the Alexandra Hospital is to pay out more than £400,000 over several cases of patient mistreatment and neglect.

Bosses at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust will also apologise to the 38 families involved for the ‘shortcomings’ but has not admitted liability.

The failings were exposed following legal action brought by the families.

Claims included nurses leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks and in one of the worst cases an 84-year-old man died of starvation. Others included drinks being left out of reach, buzzers being ignored and people being left to sit in their own filth.

In total 35 of the cases relate to the Alexandra Hospital and three to the Worcestershire Royal. They happened between 2002 and 2009.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was ‘disgusted’ and ‘appalled’.

"These are examples of the sort of ‘care’ that should simply not happen in the NHS and there is no excuse for them."

In a statement Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: "Whilst the Trust has accepted that certain aspects of the care afforded to some patients fell below the standard that they were entitled to expect, all of the cases cited are several years old, in many incidences, more than a decade old.

"This Trust now has the sixth best standard hospital mortality index (SHMI) in the Midlands and East Strategic Health area based on 2012/13 figures which put the figure at 97 – which is below the national average.

"A number of very serious allegations made by the families of deceased patients are not borne out by the medical records. Nevertheless, the Trust accepts that, the care afforded to some patients, some years ago – between 2002 and 2009 - fell below the requisite standard and has apologised for the shortcomings.

"Following a CQC inspection in early 2011, and as a consequence of rigorous clinical governance within the Trust, significant changes have been made to ensure patient care is excellent which is resulting in the Trust currently producing a SHMI below the national average. Moreover, the CQC inspection in September last year confirmed that the Trust met every CQC standard and the focus now is to ensure that those high standards are maintained and built upon. The Trust is committed to delivering the very best care to its patients and will continue to strive for excellence."

But Rebecca Blake, Labour's Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, said she was concerned cutting £50million from the Trust's budget by 2015, as a result of government efficiency savings and funding falling behind demand, would make the situation worse.

"Today's report is shocking and my thoughts are with the 38 families who have suffered mistreatment of their loved ones, 35 of whom have been at the Alex Hospital," she said.

"My concern for the care of patients at the Alex remains. Despite the majority of people going through the Alex getting good care, there is a deep rooted problem regarding the quality of care. Both long standing and revealed by the damning CQC report last year on how older people were being failed.

"Today's revelation tells me while investment alone will clearly not solve this issue, cutting £50 million from our local hospitals will only make things worse. The people of Redditch want and deserve good local services and with these findings it's clear the Alex needs greater support not less, something I will continue to campaign for.

"There is no excuse for substandard care and if we want to see an end to this we cannot accept cuts of this magnitude to the NHS including 5000 fewer nurses since 2010."

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