East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust fails to act on NHS patient safety warnings

PUBLISHED: 06:54 13 January 2020

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Stevenage's Lister Hospital and Welwyn Garden City's New QEII, reported more than 8,000 patient safety incidents between December 2018 and November 2019. Picture: DANNY LOO

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Stevenage's Lister Hospital and Welwyn Garden City's New QEII, reported more than 8,000 patient safety incidents between December 2018 and November 2019. Picture: DANNY LOO

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A Hertfordshire hospital trust has failed to act on safety alerts warning that patients could be harmed on its wards.

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which manages Lister Hospital in Stevenage and the New QEII in Welwyn Garden City, has missed key deadlines set by NHS England to act on patient safety alerts triggered by incidents which could have - or did - lead to the harm of patients.

The NHS trust is one of the worst performing in the country in this area, failing to sign off on six patient safety alerts - which would confirm implementation of an action plan - before the deadline, with one 17 months overdue.

The outstanding alerts mostly relate to known and avoidable mistakes and include actions to avoid babies being dropped, to stop the wrong metal plates being used for bone fractures, and to ensure the removal and flushing of cannulae - tubes inserted into a bodily cavity for draining off fluid - after procedures.

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The alerts also refer to safer temporary identification of unknown patients, resources to support safer care for patients at risk of a sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure, and the risk of severe harm or even death from inappropriate use of the equipment used to measure a patient's oxygen saturation levels.

With some of the outstanding safety alerts, a solution to reduce the risk of harm has been identified, but the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has not signed off on it.

A total of 8,392 patient safety incidents were reported by the NHS trust between December 2018 and November 2019, latest NHS England data shows. Of these incidents, 14 caused deaths and 45 caused severe harm.

'Patient safety incidents' are defined by the NHS as 'any unintended or unexpected incident which could have, or did, lead to harm for one or more patients receiving healthcare'.

A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: "The trust takes the reporting and learning from patient safety incidents and the management of patient safety alerts very seriously.

"We have recently undertaken a review of the management of all alerts and resulting actions, and have robust improvement plans in place to ensure that all overdue alerts are closed by the end of February 2020, if not before."

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