Deaths scandal at Dudley's Russells Hall Hospital
An investigation has been launched into the deaths of dozens of patients at Russells Hall Hospital’s failing A&E department.
As part of an inspection in June the Care Quality Commission (CQC) examined the hospital’s death records from the first six months of 2018 – sparking an independent inquiry being ordered into an alleged 54 deaths.
Urgent and emergency services remain ranked ‘inadequate’ at the crisis-stricken hospital, with concerns raised that some patients were ‘exposed to and potentially suffered avoidable harm’.
A CQC spokesperson said: “The CQC has raised concerns about deaths at Russells Hall Hospital and, following our June inspection and discussion with partner agencies, an independent review has been commissioned to look into a number of deaths.
“The review of deaths falls outside CQC’s remit. However, we continue to monitor the trust very closely and have taken enforcement action.”
Former NHS England deputy chief executive Mike Bewick has conducted the review.
Diane Wake, chief executive of the Group NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We routinely review all deaths across the hospital and they are subject to further internal review as part of our routine mortality review process and we have the lowest mortality rate in the Black Country.
“Any death we are concerned about is reported to the coroner.
“Following concerns raised by the CQC an independent review of all deaths in our emergency department over a six month period has been commissioned. We will receive the report by the end of September and we will be working with our system partners to ensure any learning is embedded.”
The damning report included a series of shocking revelations about the state of care in the emergency department.
Inspectors said that one patient was left bleeding profusely in a waiting area with ‘blood oozing out onto their clothing and the floor’.
Some patients with potentially life-threatening conditions were not being properly monitored, including the victim of a serious assault who was only checked every four hours.
Meanwhile serious concerns were raised over sepsis management at the hospital, where some patients – including those with ‘red flag’ symptoms – were not screened.
Inspectors also reported staff criticisms of the hospital’s executive team over its leadership style, a poor working culture, understaffed shifts, and incomplete care records.
And four staff told the CQC they would not want relatives to be treated there over fears they ‘may deteriorate or die’.
Dudley South Conservative MP Mike Wood – who was treated for sepsis at Russells Hall last year – attended an urgent meeting with trust bosses, the CQC and NHS Improvement to discuss the report and the inquiry into patient deaths.
He said that back in June inspectors had been concerned over the ‘worrying slowness’ of work to improve the A&E department, but said they had conceded that improvements were now taking place.
“They are seeing changes in the right direction – but there is no doubt that progress has been slower than it should have been,” he said.
“The public needs to know that the worrying shortcomings highlighted in the report are being dealt with.
“The challenge for for Russells Hall is to get the A&E department up to the excellent standards of care that exist in other areas of the hospital.”
Ms Wake said that in response to the report the trust has recently appointed a new clinical lead for urgent and emergency care.
She added that the trust had approached a neighbouring trust whose A&E was rated ‘good’, so that best practice could be shared between consultants.
Russells Hall Hospital was given an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ in the report.