National Health SHAMBLES: Three damning reports describe mothers abandoned during labour, serious hospital blunders every day and how patients have lost faith in their GPs
Public confidence in the NHS at record low following run of inquiries
A quarter of new mothers say they were abandoned by their midwives
Some NHS consulting rooms were found to be infested with maggots
Police probe into cover-up claims on cancer treatment waiting times
Blunder doctors carried out heart surgery on the wrong patient
Another man had laser surgery on his right eye rather than his left
By Sophie Borland
PUBLISHED: 18:34 EST, 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 20:10 EST, 12 December 2013
A quarter of new mothers said they were abandoned by their NHS midwives during labour, with some left to give birth on the floor or in corridors
Three damning reports last night laid bare the crisis in NHS hospitals, maternity units and GP surgeries.The second found that mistakes deemed so serious they should never happen are being made in hospitals five times a week.
And the third survey said thousands of patients have all but given up trying to secure appointments with their family doctor.
The reports come only a day after the NHS watchdog detailed a catalogue of failings at GP surgeries, including consulting rooms infested with maggots and patients being given dangerous, out-of-date drugs.
Public confidence in the Health Service is already at a record low following a run of inquiries exposing a culture of appalling patient care and bureaucratic cover-ups.
The shocking report into Mid Staffordshire hospitals, where hundreds are feared to have died needlessly because of neglect, led to increased scrutiny of death rates.
As a result, further failures have been identified across the country and 12 trusts were put into special measures after inspectors found staffing shortages and an obsession with targets were putting patients at risk.
Police have even been called in to probe claims that staff at Colchester Hospital fiddled figures to hide the fact that some patients waited up to six months for cancer treatment.
More...Tory MP Steve Barclay said the lid was being lifted on long-running scandals: ‘In the past there has been a systematic cover-up and a desire for issues not to blow up on your watch.
GPs denying urgent cancer tests to thousands of patients: Referring fewer than half of all victims for fast-track appointment
Revealed: Appalling treatment of mothers-to-be at maternity units where women say they are 'abandoned'
The 150 NHS incidents that 'should never have happened' - including a fallopian tube removed instead of an appendix and the wrong patient having heart surgery
Midwives leave one in four alone in labour: Appalling treatment of mothers-to-be at maternity units
Police have been called in to probe claims that staff at Colchester Hospital fiddled figures to hide the fact that some patients waited up to six months for cancer treatment
‘Politicians have been scared to raise issues and nobody dared criticise the NHS. But the public are well ahead of politicians and they’ve suspected problems for some time. I’ve had elderly constituents scared to go into their local hospitals because of their experiences or those of their spouses.
‘My worry with GPs is that there is very little scrutiny. People are just very grateful for their care.’
The investigation into maternity units by the Care Quality Commission found that midwives due to help women give birth at home were failing to turn up, while others were unable to read machines that monitor babies’ heart beats.
No access: A separate survey said thousands of patients have all but given up trying to secure appointments with their family doctor
Almost 150 NHS patients have been harmed by incidents that should never happen, according to new figuresCathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives said: ‘It is sad to see that in three years the NHS has not improved in terms of women seeing the same midwife during their care, which often means women have to repeat their histories over and over.’
She said her union’s latest estimate was that the NHS in England was short of 4,800 midwives.
Luciana Berger, Labour’s health spokesman, said new mothers were being badly let down.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said yesterday that NHS staff often confided in him about poor care.
LASER OP ON THE WRONG EYE
Blunders deemed so severe they should never happen are occurring five times a week in NHS hospitals, figures show.
In the last six months there were 148 ‘never events’, including 69 where objects including swabs and scalpels were left in patients’ bodies.
In one case, doctors carried out heart surgery on the wrong patient and in another, a man had laser surgery on his right eye rather than his left.
One woman’s fallopian tube was removed instead of her appendix, while doctors left a large metal block inside another patient’s body.
The figures from NHS England also show that 37 patients had surgery or treatment on the wrong part of their body and 21 were given the wrong implant or prosthetic limb.
Five patients died or came to severe harm after nursing staff incorrectly inserted feeding tubes into their lungs.
Newcastle Hospital Foundation hospitals reported the most never events.
Addressing the General Medical Council conference in Manchester, he said: ‘People have come forward and said, it’s not as bad as Mid Staffs where I work, but even though I’m very glad to work at a fine hospital, I see things like that happening on my shifts and we need to sort it out.
‘There has been a hunger to really get to grips with these problems and sort them out and that is something we can be extremely proud of.’
Mr Hunt also said he’d seen some ‘incredible’ care and spoke of how a nurse had gone out of her way to reunite a dying cancer patient with his family in Ireland.
The patient who otherwise would have died alone in hospital was flown out and spent his last two weeks surrounded by loved ones.
Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, said one of the biggest concerns of patients was the inability to see a GP – a key finding of an NHS survey showing how patients had lost faith in family doctors. Nearly a third said they did not trust their out-of-hours service.
‘The primary care service is the major contact for most patients and if that isn’t up to scratch then how can it be that our NHS is supposedly the envy of the world,’ said Mr Goss.
‘There are surgeries where patients are queuing through the passage and out of the door just to get an appointment.
‘Many surgeries have patient unfriendly booking systems.’
The mistakes that should never happened were detailed by NHS England and included one woman being left infertile after doctors operated on the wrong side of her body.
A Department of Health Spokesperson said: ‘People have a right to expect the best standards of care from their GP practice and hospital. A global study last month showed, the NHS is one of the best health services in the world.
‘We want the NHS to be more transparent than ever before to help it continue to improve. We expect hospitals and GP practices to look at these figures and reports and take action to make the right improvements to ensure patients are receiving high quality care and services throughout the health service.’