Under fire hospitals face visit from specialist team

A SPECIALIST team has been sent into three hospitals following a highly critical report.

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Health inspectors found concerns over nursing and medical staffing levels and management accountability at the three main Lanarkshire hospitals.

Health Secretary Alex Neil has set up the expert team to help NHS Lanarkshire meet the 21 recommendations of health inspectors.

Monklands, Hairmyres and Wishaw General have all to improve following the report which warns of inadequate staffing levels and variation in quality of care.

The Rapid Review into the safety and quality of care in Lanarkshire by Healthcare Improvement Scotland was started in ­August following concerns about high mortality rates at Monklands Hospital ­earlier this year.

The report's 21 recommendations include:

l Action on variation in standard and systems of care across the three hospitals. Inspectors heard it was down to inadequate staffing levels and poor working conditions.

l A more robust approach to identifying patents with deteriorating conditions.

l Swift action to ensure ­robust and sustainable medical staffing. It found ­inadequate levels at weekends and evenings.

l Action on ensuring safe nursing staff levels. Gaps were found and an ­imbalance between trained and untrained staff and ­intended levels were not maintained in practice.

l Review and simplify management to ensure accountability at the hospitals. It found complex governance which led to lack of clarity about accountability.

Robbie Pearson, chairman of the HIS review team, said: "Although the review team found a service where clinicians and managers are working hard to do the right thing, sometimes in a difficult environment, the team concluded that a broad range of improvements are necessary for NHS Lanarkshire to continue its ­commitment to delivering deliver safe and effective ­patient care."

Mr Neil said the standard of care had fallen short of the Government's expectations.

He said: "I expect those improvements to be made urgently, and I have asked to be updated regularly.

"I have also asked for a formal review of progress against the recommendations by the end of March.

"We should not lose sight of the commitment and dedication of staff across NHS Lanarkshire and the whole of our health service.

"This report highlights positive experiences alongside the negative ones."

NHS Lanarkshire said it accepted the recommendations and would be going through the report in detail.

Chief executive Ian Ross said: "Delivering high quality care is our priority and we recognise that it is right and proper that the health service is subject to the highest level of scrutiny to ensure this is being achieved.

"We regret any occasion where patient care has fallen short of the high standards we strive for."

The three experts are Jeane Freeman, chairwoman of the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Malcolm Wright, Chief Executive of NHS Education Scotland and Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie, Director of Public Health at NHS Grampian.

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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