Keogh hospital probe must not trigger 'knee-jerk response', warns GPC

A report into 14 hospitals in England with the highest death rates risks undermining patients' confidence in NHS services unless its findings are kept 'in perspective', a senior GP has warned.

Sir Bruce Keogh: review of 14 hospitals with highest death rates
Sir Bruce Keogh: review of 14 hospitals with highest death rates

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh reported today on failings of care at 14 hospitals across England, following a review launched after the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

Of the hospitals investigated, 11 have now been placed on 'special measures', which will mean working with 'high-performing organisations' and potentially the removal of senior staff.

A DH statement said that none of the 14 hospitals investigated was 'providing consistently high quality care to patients'.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned that even at hospitals where failings were identified, the vast majority of patients were likely to receive 'very good care'.

He said GPs and LMCs in affected areas were likely to have been raising concerns about failing services for some time.

But he added: 'We need to keep this in perspective. We need to be careful that we don't completely undermine the NHS service in that area when patients want to go to a local NHS service. Openness and transparency are important, but we don’t want any knee-jerk reactions that make things worse not better.

'I would anticipate it will undermine the confidence of patients generally, lead to extra workload for GPs and put them under even more pressure. It risks becoming a rolling stone.'

The NHS needed to provide information in a way that supports services to improve, not 'weigh them down under condemnatory language', Dr Vautrey said.

Commenting ahead of the report, Royal College of Physicians president Sir Richard Thompson said: ‘It is clear that parts of the system must change to better meet patients’ needs.

‘The NHS is struggling to cope with increasing pressures on acute services, patients with increasingly complex needs, and a breakdown of out-of-hours care.

‘Both the system and patient care pathways must be designed around patients’ needs. Current services no longer meet the needs of patients; we are trying to fit around outdated systems. Patients’ demands have changed and so our hospital services must change.'

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