Hospital takes action to improve children’s ward

A report into the paediatric crisis at Bedford Hospital makes for ‘hard reading’ as the threat of permanently losing trainee posts hangs over the trust.

Thursday, 9th January 2014, 8:00 am
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An independent external inquiry into the events which lead to the withdrawal of junior doctors from the paediatric department last June highlights a failure to respond to concerns about training dating back to 2005.

It also makes ten recommendations to improve hospital procedure, which Bedford Hospital Trust Board approved at a public meeting yesterday (January 8), The board will look into implementing the changes across the hospital to ensure the problems cannot be repeated on other wards.

Newly appointed chief executive Stephen Conroy said: “We are very sorry that we have got to this position. The report was very hard reading and shows there are areas of weakness and there were missed opportunities to intervene, which could have prevented problems with trainees.”

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The report, published on Tuesday (January 7), highlights a weakness in trainee supervision, that trainees’ complaints were not dealt with and there was weak clinical leadership in the department.

The report added in 2012 the board missed an opportunity to take action even when the threat of the junior doctors removal was presented to it.

The board welcomed the recommendations made by the report, which it sees as building on measures the hospital has put in place since July. They include better communication between trainees and management, improved support for tutors, gathering feedback from parents and compliance to the General Medical Council standards for medical training.

Mr Conroy added: “The whole of the board expresses regret it happened and would like to give assurances over the action taken in the past six months and action going forward. This is the beginning of changes in hospital culture so it never happens again.”

The report comes as the hospital reviews its medical education programme across the hospital, prior to inviting the GMC to review the new procedures. It emphasised the hospital needs to pass the inspection as the GMC could recommend axing paediatric training posts. Currently, the paediatric department does not have trainee doctors, but the posts remain in place to be filled in the future.

Bedfordshire MPs Richard Fuller and Alistair Burt gave a “cautious welcome” to the findings of the inquiry.

Bedford and Kempston MP Richard Fuller said “This report is damning in its criticism of persistent and widespread failures by those in responsible positions at the Hospital; failures which directly led to the dramatic changes in services last year. The Hospital was described as having an “at best... muted, and at worst non-existent” response to concerns about training and “a complete absence of reference to the standards of medical education and training”.”

But he added: “I am encouraged that December’s inspection of the hospital noted ‘significant improvements’ and I am glad that most paediatric services have now returned to the hospital.”