Health chiefs ‘knew about septicaemia cases’ four months ago, says report
8:54am Thursday 28th February 2013 in News
HEALTH chiefs at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust knew about issues surrounding cases of septicaemia at the hospital more than four months ago.
A report has also revealed that the Trust knew there were high rates of septicaemia — and that it was the biggest cause of death at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
The revelations come after an investigation was launched by healthcare information expert Dr Foster after it was found 800 cases of septicaemia had been recorded at the hospital between March, 2011 and April, 2012.
A similar sized trust would expect to have just 200.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, who is also leading an investigation into five hospital trusts with high mortality rates, is involved in the probe.
Dr Jackie Bene, acting chief executive, who has since “stepped aside” at the Trust, was first told that Dr Foster had found large cases of septicaemia at the hospital by Bolton’s Clinical Commissioning Group on October 16.
But it has taken more than four months for the investigation into why there have been so many cases, led by independent watchdog Dr Foster, to take place.
Dr Bene, who was medical director at the Trust between 2008 and January, 2012, was sent a letter by Dr Colin Mercer, clinical director for governance and safety at the CCG, informing her that Bolton had an “unusually high” number of cases of septicaemia.
On October 19, Dr Wirin Bhatiani, the chairman of Bolton’s CCG, sent a formal letter to David Wakefield, the interim chairman at the Trust, telling him there would be an investigation.
The Trust’s Forward Plan Strategy, which was submitted to health watchdog Monitor in June, revealed the top cause of mortality in the Trust was septicaemia and key actions included reducing sepsis in patients.
Mr Wakefield said once they were made aware of the large number of cases of septicaemia, the hospital began an ongoing investigation into why.
After the Dr Foster investigation into coding practices began, the Trust decided to bring in an independent group to see whether incorrect coding was the reason for the high number of cases.
Interim findings from Dr Foster claim to have found “significant discrepancies” in the way patients had been coded.
Sir Bruce said hospitals must “behave openly and honestly about their performance”.
He added: “These allegations have been picked up by the local NHS working together and scrutinising what has been going on — with support from the CQC and Monitor. As yet, there is no evidence that any patient has been harmed. But we will be monitoring the situation and learning any lessons.
“There are clear national guidelines on how death rates should be recorded, and I expect all NHS hospitals to follow them.”
The Trust has said it is “pleased” to have the “expertise and authority” of Sir Bruce to “examine any issues and provide recommendations”.
A Care Quality Commission (CQC) spokesman added: “CQC is aware of the independent investigation by Dr Foster and Bolton’s Clinical Commissioning Group regarding septicaemia cases and is liaising closely with Monitor, local commissioners and other agencies on this issue.
“We will consider the outcome of the investigation carefully and will determine the need for any further regulatory action in light of its findings. In the meantime, we continue to monitor this Trust very closely and will not hesitate to use our regulatory powers as required.”
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