Lister Surgicentre ‘signed over to NHS amid patient safety concerns’

Comet editor Darren Isted and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland stand in front of the Lister Surgicent

Comet editor Darren Isted and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland stand in front of the Lister Surgicentre - Credit: Archant

THE privately-run Lister Surgicentre in Stevenage has been taken over by the NHS after an inspection found patients’ health and welfare was at risk.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has confirmed to the Comet that the Surgicentre has been bought by the Government from Clinicenta Ltd, which is part of Carillion, for in excess of £53 million and handed to the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust to manage.

The handover on Tuesday comes after the Comet reported in June how health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had begun the process of suspending Clinicenta’s licence.

It follows an unannounced inspection by the CQC which found the Surgicentre, based at Lister Hospital, does not have an effective health, safety and welfare system in place, which was having a major impact on patients.

The Surgicentre offers day case surgery and some short-stay surgery - including orthopaedics - as well as eye services.


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Mr McPartland had been pushing for Clinicenta’s licence to be revoked.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted with the news. It has been a long and difficult campaign, but I have persuaded Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, that ClinicentaCarillion just had to go so patients can be safe.

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“The service never reached a satisfactory standard, despite the best efforts of the NHS staff, who work in the facility on a day-to-day basis under intolerable pressure.

“The Surgicentre was not managed properly and we are clearing up the mess of the previous government, which placed a building company in charge of highly sensitive and complex surgical procedures. This must never happen again.

“At least three people died, 8,500 patient records were lost, and a whole host of serious failings led to the Care Quality Commission beginning proceedings to suspend ClinicentaCarillion’s licence to operate at the Surgicentre because of serious concerns for patient safety.”

He said Clinicenta had lost the confidence of the community and of medical professionals, with GPs refusing to refer patients to the facility for treatment because they were so concerned.

He said profits had been put before patient safety, “playing roulette with our local health service”.

Asked about the East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs Lister, taking over the facility, Mr McPartland said: “I am delighted. We can now begin the job of rebuilding trust, and this facility, with state-of-the-art equipment, can be managed properly inside our NHS, where it should have been from day one.”

The Comet contacted Clinicenta, the CQC, NHS England and the hospital Trust, but none of the organisations had commented at the time of going to press.

Timeline:

April 2012: The CQC published a report which showed the surgicentre was failing to meet four out of five areas of inspection.

Failures included a lack of evidence that significant risks such as inadequate staffing levels and theatre efficiency were being addressed.

The report said “significant risks to people’s welfare had been identified”.

August 2012: Doctor Peter Graves, chief executive of the Beds and Herts local medical committee, wrote to all GPs in the county advising them to think twice before sending patients to the eye department at the surgicentre, stating “significant and worrying concerns”.

NHS Hertfordshire went on to tell GPs to stop referring eye patients due to patient waiting times.

February 2013: Three patient deaths following elective surgery were criticised by the most experienced medical examiner in the country.

Dr Alan Fletcher, who was called in following the unexpected deaths, noted that a member of staff was working continuously for more than 48 hours, that a vital piece of medical equipment was not available, and that a senior doctor only gave advice over the phone.

June 2013: Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland told the Comet that Clinicenta was to have its licence suspended by the Care Quality Commission.

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