More questions after report into data coding at hospital prompts new inquiry
11:50am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
THE report following an investigation into the way data was “coded” at the Royal Bolton Hospital has thrown up more questions than answers.
Councillors and union members have criticised the report for not resolving the issues surrounding why there were “discrepancies” in coding.
Although the report, which was shown to Bolton’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) by health information expert Dr Foster on Wednesday, did reveal that more that more than half of a sample of coding had not met national standards, another investigation has had to be launched to find out why.
The work was commissioned by Bolton CCG after they became concerned Bolton NHS Foundation Trust had recorded 800 cases of septicaemia between March 2011 and April 2012, when a similar-sized Trust would expect to have 200.
Dr Foster looked at 150 cases and found 76 did not meet national coding standards and 69 of these had been changed after they were coded.
But a number of questions, including why this happened and the impact it could have on the Trust’s mortality rates and finances, have not been answered.
The Trust and CCG have brought in an independent team of experts — including Kathy Doran, an experienced chief executive, who currently works for Cheshire, Wirral and Warrington PCT cluster, Dr Peter Williams, medical director at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust, and Ron Daniels, chief executive of the Sepsis Trust UK — to carry out a more clinical-based investigation.
The acting chief executive Dr Jackie Bene, who “stepped aside” to allow the first investigation to take place, will remain absent from the Trust while the report is completed.
Cllr Andy Morgan, who sits on the Health, Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said the second investigation needed to be done “immediately”.
He added: “The report raises more questions than it answers and is obviously of great concern as it suggests that a significant amount of the cases reviewed have been misreported.
“The CCG needs to establish why this has occurred and what pressure, if any, was put on staff to incorrectly record these cases. The public needs to have the confidence the hospital is moving forward and that it is providing appropriate and quality care to the residents of our town.”
His thoughts were echoed by Harry Hanley, secretary of Staff Side at the Trust, who said the sooner the issue was resolved and the people responsible held to account, the better for the Trust.
He added: “It is a damning report but if we are going to have an investigation then it should have answered all the questions at once because every time something like this comes back it is another kick in the teeth for the staff and it is not their fault.
“Over the last 12 months there have been a lot of problems at the hospital but it hasn’t been the staff’s fault but it is them who are going home worrying about it.”
Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, who was chairman at the Trust for eight years who left in August, had said he would be unable to comment until after the Dr Foster report. But yesterday, he said he could not comment until after the second report as he needed to wait until the clinical aspect of the work had been investigated.