Patient safety review into University Hospitals Birmingham published – is patient care at risk?
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (“UHB”) are currently under review following a BBC Newsnight investigation which highlighted a climate of fear that the Trust was putting patients at risk.
The review was commissioned following concerns raised in December 2022 relating to patient safety, leadership, culture and governance. The first review into patient safety and governance, the Bewick Review, was published this week.
Professor Bewick, a former NHS England deputy medical director, sought to reassure the public by stating ‘Our overall view is that the trust is a safe place to receive care’. He went on to advise however ‘…any continuance of a culture that is corrosively affecting morale and in particular threatens long-term staff recruitment and retention will put at risk the care of patients across the organisation – particularly in the current nationwide NHS staffing crisis’.
The report highlighted that extensive complaints had been made by staff about the conduct of the Trust and many were concerned about the ‘toxic atmosphere and bullying at all levels of management’. A fear of retribution was felt by those if concerns were raised.
A total of 17 recommendations were made as part of the Bewick Review across clinical safety, governance and leadership, staff welfare and culture. These include:
- Haemato-oncology – a specific review of mortality to be conducted by an external specialist to include a retrospective review of all deaths previously analysed, considering whether there is an outstanding Duty of Candour responsibility to the patient cohort and to review all deaths in 2021/22;
- In light of the tragic death by suicide of Dr Kumar, a Junior Doctor at the Trust, review the processes to support doctors in training who are concerned about their mental health, ability to speak up freely about concerns with colleagues with a clear message they will be listened to;
- Prospective appointments of senior staff to be reviewed with a focus on developing core skills to include leadership, collaborative working methods and professional interaction;
- That the Trust commissions a partner to deliver awareness training on how to identify issues on bullying, coercion, intimidation and misogyny.
In light of the report’s findings Jonathan Brotherton, Chief Executive at UHB confirmed ‘Patients can continue to be confident that the care and treatment provided at our hospitals is safe. We are pleased that Professor Bewick’s overall view is that the Trust is a safe place to receive care’. He went on to confirm that they accepted his recommendations and ‘there are a number of significant concerns that we need to, and have started to, address; we will continue to learn from the past, as we move forward’.
Professor Bewick has been commissioned to assist with the remaining two reviews, a Well-Led review of leadership and governance together with a review into Culture. It is hoped that these reports will be published in the summer of 2023 and there is a commitment in place to update beyond this time to report on the progress following implementation of the recommendations highlighted in the initial report.
It is our experience that the problems highlighted at UHB are not limited to that Trust alone. In recent years there have been a number of reviews across the country into various Hospital Trusts highlighting similar failures of leadership, lack of respect and bullying to staff. For staff to feel unable to voice their concerns about practices within their Trust will surely lead to errors going unreported and patient care being compromised. If errors are not reported, then the Trust are unable to engage with their duty of candour responsibilities. Such errors can have serious consequences for patients with the possibility of suffering life altering injuries as a result.
If you have had a poor experience or been affected by sub-standard care at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust or elsewhere, you are welcome to contact our team to discuss how we can help and support you:
- Karen Reynolds | Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham/Manchester/Liverpool):
0345 272 5677 or by email to email@example.com
- Siobhan Genever | Director:
0345 030 5774 or 07971 586185 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Demi Shephard | Trainee Solicitor:
0345 128 7996 or by email at email@example.com
- Ibrahim Mahmood | Legal Assistant:
0345 126 4359 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information please get in touch with our Clinical Negligence Team.
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