A RISK Summit into health care standards has raised concerns at the high number of deaths during emergency surgery at the Alex.
The summit, on March 25, came the day after the Care Quality Commission carried out a surprise visit to Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s A&E departments in Redditch and Worcester.
It found that patient deaths at the trust were running 10 per cent higher than in other authorities.
In particular it highlighted concerns about the high death rate during emergency surgery at the Alexandra Hospital.
Earlier that month five A&E consultants had quit, four from the Alex, citing overcrowding and patient safety concerns in their letter of resignation.
The findings came to light as members of the county council’s health and well-being board grilled the trust’s health chiefs following concerns over its performance, which have seen it hit the national newspaper headlines due to its failure to cope in accident and emergency.
A report, written by Dr Richard Harling, the county council’s director of adult services and health, raised concerns about the trust’s failure to hit several key performance targets, these include long waits for treatment in A&E, people being discharged before they were medically stable, and claims of staff bullying.
However he added: “The area that was of the greatest concern was in emergency surgery, particularly at the Alexandra Hospital.”
He went on to outline concerns over the leadership and culture within the trust and voiced fears over the allegations of bullying and harassment.
Chris Tidman, standing in for the trust’s chief executive, Penny Venables, who is on extended sick leave, said they were working in challenging conditions but that a turnaround programme had now been introduced.
“Up until November 2014 we were hitting our targets and obviously we need to understand why that performance slipped off and it was not just about volume of patients in A&E but it’s fundamentally how our hospitals flow from the front door to the back,” he said.
Actions being taken include more complex emergency surgery being transferred from the Alex to Worcestershire Royal with more orthopaedic surgery being performed in Redditch to relieve pressures in A&E.
Mr Tidman said the improvements were having an immediate effect, with waiting times being cut, no patients lining the corridor waiting to be seen in A&E and staff moral up.
The trust’s chief medical officer Dr Andy Phillips pledged that every single death in the hospitals would be reviewed and lessons would be learnt.
There was universal agreement that, in the five weeks since the Risk Summit there had been a marked improvement at the trust.