NHS Lanarkshire is under fire after a ‘damning’ report into care at the county’s three main hospitals - Wishaw General, Monklands and Hairmyres.
A review was carried out following figures which showed the three had above average mortality rates.
The review team, headed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, listened to the experiences of more than 300 patients and carers, and more than 200 health board staff, reviewing 152 patient records.
Its report says it’s impossible to establish why mortality rates are higher than normal, but makes 21 recommendations for improvements at the three hospitals.
During a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said: “This damning report makes clear repeatedly that across the three hospitals there must be robust action to ensure more sustainable medical staffing.”
Central Scotland Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell said the report raises ‘important and worrying concerns’.
She added: “Among the issues raised were the difficulties some patients, relatives and carers had in getting their concerns heard and the deeply troubling statement that staff were not making their concerns about risks to patient safety known to senior management because they felt that no action would be taken to rectify the problem.
“In addition, the review highlighted that NHS Lanarkshire responded to 95% of complaints within the 20 working days target, compared to 61% nationally. However, it was concerned that NHS Lanarkshire’s emphasis was on meeting the 20-day target and not on undertaking a proper analysis of the complaint and responding in full to the issues raised.”
In the parliament Mrs Mitchell told Health Secretary Alex Neil an ‘urgent’ review of NHS Lanarkshire’s complaints procedure is needed.
NHS Lanarkshire chief executive Ian Ross defended hospital stafff, saying: “The review team acknowledges it found experienced clinicians and managers working hard to provide the best possible care in sometimes difficult circumstances.
“Delivering high quality care is our priority and we recognise that it is right and proper that the health service is subject to the highest level of scrutiny to ensure this is being achieved. We regret any occasion where patient care has fallen short of the high standards we strive for.
“We need to go through the findings in detail. We accept the recommendations and recognise many of them as areas where we are already making improvements.
“We have made considerable investments increasing our staffing levels. We increased our nursing levels following a £900k investment earlier this year and as recently announced we are spending a further £1m to recruit more nurses within the emergency care areas.”
Dr Iain Wallace, NHS Lanarkshire’s medical director, added: “This report identifies some challenges within emergency care services that we are already taking action to address.
“We have already changed the pattern of medical cover in late evenings and weekends. With our clinical leaders we will develop a priority action plan to drive forward the changes necessary in line with the report findings which identify that models of care need to be built around patients, taking account of the workforce that is available.”
An enquiry line has been established for anyone who wishes to discuss the care they or their relative has received. The number is 0800 8494129.