Birmingham hospital under the spotlight

By staff

Serious concerns have been raised over Birmingham children’s hospital NHS foundation trust (BCH), just days after a damning report over Stafford hospital.

That report, by the Healthcare Commission, prompted outrage across party lines and resulted in a prime minister’s questions dominated by what the government intended to do about the situation.

Today, the Healthcare Commission called for action to address concerns over care in BCH, prompting more anger from politicians and patient groups.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “It is deeply disturbing that there have been two examples of hospital trusts who have not responded quickly to safety issues in the space of a week.

“Those responsible for these failures must be held to account.”

The watchdog found renal and liver transplants, craniofacial surgery, neurosurgery, interventional radiology and cardiac services being severely delayed and conducted with “less than optimal care”.

There was a lack of access to beds, theatre and radiology equipment and poor support to surgeons undertaking operations, with concerns including the knowledge and skills of theatre staff and the availability of equipment.

“It is deeply concerning that serious issues were raised but not properly or rapidly addressed over several months,” said Anna Walker, the commission’s chief executive said.

“While I would not say there were ‘third-world’ conditions, there were serious potential risks in the way care was provided.”

There was some optimism about the trust’s ability to make the necessary reforms, but the watchdog expressed concerns about the slow pace of change since concerns were first raised in June 2008.

“Following the trust’s recent actions, we are reassured that there are no immediate safety concerns but there must be no delay in resolving the issues we have highlighted,” Ms Walker said.

BCH is one of only four specialist children’s hospitals in England, providing services in the West Midlands and nationally.