Low staff levels the cause of poor patient care at Blackpool Hospital

Posted by Gemma Osgood on

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The results of the Keogh report have now been published.

The report has identified a number of examples of poor quality of care being provided, many of which were attributed to low staff levels at the hospital.  Examples of poor care include:-

  • Patients families having to help feed other patients and some patients left in soiled conditions due to lack of staff.
  • Concerns over out-of-hours cover were raised, with one example describing a locum doctor who has since been removed from on-call duties being unable to manage a cardiac arrest in the high dependency unit. 
  • It was also found some nurse shift leaders in ICU were not trained in advanced life support and had shown resistance to training. 
  • The stroke ward was highlighted because its layout makes it difficult to observe patients with the current level of staff and there is no dedicated stroke consultant over the weekend.
  • In orthopaedics, one junior doctor reported seeing patients for four days in a week without advice from a senior colleague.
  • And in the geriatric medicine ward staffing levels were deemed to be inappropriate. On 11 out of 17 days in May at least one member of staff was absent through illness.

The review has called for recruitment of more staff for the hospital, particularly out of hours staff. The Trust has advised that it has already increased its out of hours agency support for accident and emergency and will increase staff levels in other departments by October. It is suggested that there are plans to recruit 35 new consultants, 10 of whom have already been appointed.

Despite the problems raised, Blackpool has been saved from 'special measures' which have been implemented on a number of other Trusts across the UK. It is hoped that the findings of the report will act as a warning to the Trust and that staffing levels will be improved resulting in better care for patients.

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About the Author

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Gemma is a Senior Associate in our Clinical Negligence team with extensive experience in all areas of medical negligence claims.

Gemma Osgood
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