Hospital deaths investigation should consider impact of bed shortages and funding cuts, says union chief

Unison rep Steve Bell and, below, Sir Bruce Keogh
Unison rep Steve Bell and, below, Sir Bruce Keogh

Bed shortages, funding cuts, the lack of support staff and staff terms and conditions should be focused on in an investigation at Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust following the Mid-Staffordshire scandal, a union chief has said.

The trust, which runs Stoke Mandeville Hospital, is one of 14 organisations being investigated for having higher than average death rates.

Global Business Summit on Advances in Assistive Medical Technologies held at Stoke Mandeville Stadium - pictured is Sir Bruce Keogh - Medical Director of the NHS in England

Global Business Summit on Advances in Assistive Medical Technologies held at Stoke Mandeville Stadium - pictured is Sir Bruce Keogh - Medical Director of the NHS in England

Steve Bell, secretary of the Bucks health branch of Unison, welcomed the investigation and outlined a number of areas he hopes it will look at.

He also warned of the dangers of too much change in the NHS.

Mr Bell said: “What staff find when they join is a health service that is constantly reorganising, target orientated, short of staff, a shortage of beds, changing terms and conditions and making savings to meet Government financial targets that are arbitrarily imposed on local trusts.

“This continuous pressure on staff will despite the best will in the world affect how staff relate to clients.”

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, who is leading the review, has outlined details of the investigation, due to be completed before the summer.

The investigation will first gather and look at the available information to develop lines of enquiry. A team of clinicians, patients, managers and regulators will then go into each of the hospitals and observe them in action before producing a report.

Finally, health experts will meet to consider each report before making judgements about the quality of care provided and agree any action. A report on each trust will be made publicly available following each risk summit.

The investigation will seek to find out ‘whether there are any sustained failings in the quality of care and treatment being provided to patients’.

It will also aim to identify any areas that may require regulatory action to protect patients, find out if existing action to improve quality is adequate and if any extra steps should be taken and identify any additional external support that should be made available to the trusts to help them improve.