Lincolnshire’s main hospital trust is among 11 placed under special measures following a review into abnormally high death rates.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review, published today, found 14 NHS trusts ‘trapped in mediocrity’ including United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust - which runs Boston Pilgrim.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt immediately placed 11 of those trusts, including ULHT, under special measures for ‘fundamental breaches of care’.
Mr Hunt said ULHT’s failure to prevent 12 ‘never events’ - serious, avoidable incidents - was ‘staggering’ when he announced the trust’s inclusion for special measures.
ULHT’s non-standardised mortality rate was also the worst of the 14 trusts at more than twice the national average, though this was mitigated to mid-table when the elderly demographic was taken into consideration.
Although Professor Keogh identified ‘dedicated, loyal and committed’ staff at ULHT, he called for issues of inadequate staffing to be addressed urgently.
He also criticised the ‘constant change in leadership’ and issues with the ‘do not attempt resuscitation’ forms.
ULHT has accepted the findings and is addressing the main issues through a £7 million investment in 200 additional nurses.
Chief executive Jane Lewington said: “We will be unrelenting in our efforts to improve the areas which the review panel have identified.
“But it is also important that the review has recognised the excellence of much of what we do and the commitment of so many of our staff.”
Mr Hunt said ULHT and the other 10 trusts will be required to work with external teams to help implement Professor Keogh’s recommendations.
Their progress will be tracked and senior management will be removed if found unable to deliver the required changes, Mr Hunt announced.
For those who have lost family members through avoidable deaths at the trust, however, the review and its responses are ‘too little too late’.
Shirley Cooper complained about the treatment her father received before his death at Boston Pilgrim in 2009 so that issues highlighted today could be brought to attention.
After four years fighting for justice, the Health Ombudsman finally found in Shirley’s favour and concluded that the ‘medical care provided for Mr Cooper by the trust fell significantly below the applicable standard’.
Although she welcomes the increased focus brought upon the health service as a result of Professor Keogh’s review she fears her pain will never go away.
“There are days when I feel like my head will explode, I want to scream and my heart is broken - how am I supposed to fix that?” she asked.
Local county councillor Colin Davie has called for the review’s publication to be a time of mourning for those who died needlessly and for those who have failed their communities to ‘hang their heads in shame’.
“Now that the Keogh review has reported and revealed the extent of failure within ULHT and other trusts nationwide it is natural to want blame to be apportioned and redress sought,” he said.
“Let today be about those who died through the failure of these hospital trusts and think of them and all those who mourn them.
“Those who have failed our communities should hang their heads in shame and then resign.”