Royal Free 'put lives at risk'

THE Royal Free Hospital has failed to implement 15 patient safety measures issued by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) in the past five years, it has been revealed. The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has researched

Susanna Wilkey

THE Royal Free Hospital has failed to implement 15 patient safety measures issued by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) in the past five years, it has been revealed.

The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has researched the system of issuing patient safety alerts and the degree to which they are being implemented or not in hospitals across the country.

The alerts sent out by the Agency warn the hospital about how to improve their safety standards and include areas like how to store vaccines, oxygen and improve cleanliness.


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It has found that the Hampstead hospital has not implemented 15 of the 53 alerts issued since 2004 compared to five at the Whittington and only two at University College London Hospital.

Neil Woodnick, from Camden LINk, said: "This is worrying. It is high at the Royal Free compared to other hospitals and it is shocking that these alerts are not being implemented because they are things which have caused a real problem elsewhere and possibly a patient has died."

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A report by AvMA said: "We were shocked by the results. Patient safety alerts are issued by the National Patient Safety Agency and contain required actions which all relevant NHS trusts are obliged to implement by the deadline given.

"This is one of the top core standards set by the Department of Health. Alerts are only issued about those patient safety problems where the NPSA has evidence that they cause unnecessary death or serious injuries on a repeated basis."

A spokeswoman for the Royal Free said: "In the most recent survey, we were found to have the lowest mortality rate in the country.

"The trust has not ignored any patient safety alerts. We receive and assess the relevance of all alerts and monitor the implementation of any required changes through our clinical risk committee.

"As we are a large and complex organisation, it is not always possible to fully implement all changes within the required timeframe but the committee closely monitors any shortfall in order to minimise risk to patients. The trust works hard to continually improve patient safety.

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