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Medics accuse health bosses of creating a litany of failures’

PUBLISHED: 10:33 08 July 2010 | UPDATED: 18:05 25 August 2010

Exclusive Serious safety concerns raised by senior medics over a lack of sterile equipment, staff shortages, cancelled operations and substandard linen have led an MP to report hospital Trust bosses to a healthcare watchdog.

Exclusive

Serious safety concerns raised by senior medics over a lack of sterile equipment, staff shortages, cancelled operations and substandard linen have led an MP to report hospital Trust bosses to a healthcare watchdog.

Eight doctors and surgeons approached Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire alleging a litany of failures against South London Healthcare Trust, which is responsible for more than one million people in Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich.

Mr Brokenshire was so concerned by the gravity of the claims that he reported the

debt-ridden Trust to the Care Quality Commission on Tuesday.

The letter to them states that shortages of sterile equipment at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup and the Princess Royal in Farnborough, had been raised, along with suggestions that some surgical units were missing essential equipment which was "leading to cancelled operations and increased clinical risk."

The senior medics said the problems span all three of the Trust's hospitals - the Princess Royal, Queen Mary's and Queen Elizabeth's in Woolwich. They told Mr Brokenshire they wanted to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, claiming the Trust did not take their concerns over clinical safety seriously.

The Times has obtained a copy of the letter sent by Mr Brokenshire to the commission on Tuesday. It states the doctors and surgeons, from a range of departments, claim the loss of middle-grade doctors has led to many planned operations being cancelled, there is a lack of recruitment to fill vacancies, and that patient referrals are taking much longer because consultant letters are taking between four and six weeks to send out.

Mr Brokenshire said: "I want to take the Trust at face value but I feel I have to do a duty to my constituents by reporting it otherwise I would be negligent.

"I don't want to scaremonger people into thinking that they shouldn't use the hospitals but it is very concerning.

"Clearly the clinicians want to address the situation now to prevent anything more serious happening in the future.

"On the one hand I am hearing complaints from the clinicians about procurement of essential equipment and capacity issues and on the other I am being reassured by the

Trust that they are sorting out the problems and that there have been communication issues."

He was first contacted by the top clinicians on June 18 and immediately reported their complaints to the Department of Health. He met with the trust's chief executive

Chris Streather, medical director Roger Smith and nursing director Jennie Hall last Friday where he said they tried to reassure him that the difficulties were being sorted.

A spokesperson for the South London Healthcare Trust, said: "There are some objective measures of patient safety and quality which are improving, for example, hospital acquired infections and mortality.

"However, we are under some pressure of providing consistent, high quality services, because of shortages of staff in key areas. If this means we have to make temporary

changes to certain services to maintain patient safety, we wouldn't hesitate to do so"

Mr Brokenshire said reporting the Trust to the Care Quality Commission would not affect preventing the A Picture of Health consultation plans, which the Times has

campaigned against for more than three years.


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