Patients put at risk as trust sought PFI deal

20 Sep 01
The chief executive of a Midlands trust has admitted that patient care suffered while managers put together one of the largest NHS Private Finance Initiative deals to date.

21 September 2001

David Loughton, head of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust, accepted the findings of a scathing report from the Commission for Health Improvement this week.

The NHS watchdog said the trust was failing to ensure services continued to be provided safely and effectively while managers concentrated on negotiations for a new £290m hospital, due for completion in 2006.

Chi's review also detailed a breakdown in communication between management and senior consultants, and staff complaining of a 'bullying' culture. The lives of patients admitted through A&E were put at risk because they had to be transferred to an emergency admissions unit in a different hospital, while the trust's practice of putting five beds in bays designed for four was unacceptable and dangerous, though this was ended last month.

Chi found significantly higher death rates in some specialities. The trust said this was due to its case mix and the lack of a nearby hospice, which meant terminally ill patients died in hospital. While some waiting areas were clean, others were 'dirty and unmodernised'.

Loughton said a preferred bidder on the PFI deal would be announced by the end of the month. 'I accept the criticism that we have been putting our focus on getting agreement for the new hospital. We can now focus on other key issues to improve the quality of care for people,' he added.


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