Senior Professor chairs working group on hospital reviews

Professor Alan Paterson, Director of the Centre for Professional Studies in the Law School was the Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland’s  Short Life Working Group on Hospital Reports. The Group was established in January 2015 to investigate whether there were common themes emerging from four recent reviews of failing hospitals in the UK. The Working Group’s Report was published on 10 July 2015 under the title “Learning from Serious Failings in Care”.

Professor Paterson commented,

“When you join up the dots what we found is that there are indeed common features between these hospital reviews and several others which have been published in the last few months. The same issues do not come up in all of these reports , but in most of them and far too frequently to be dismissed as isolated incidents.”

Amongst the systemic issues to emerge from these reviews are :

  • poor leadership at all levels including clinicians and management – resulting in defective cultures, a disconnect between clinical staff and management, inappropriate targets and  too often for comfort, bullying and undermining behaviour
  • staff shortages and particularly an inappropriate skills mix on teams of healthcare professionals
  • poor staff morale and motivation
  • poor dealings with patients, including, too often, inadequate care and poor communication
  • a failure to learn the lessons from earlier hospital reviews

The Working Group Report contains 20 recommendations related to these and other issues. Central to these recommendations are the urgent need:

  • to engender more effective team working between clinicians and management
  • to place quality of care ahead of targets
  • to ensure appropriate staffing levels
  • to improve the working culture within the NHS and in particular instances of “learned helplessness” experienced by staff when placed in situations of extreme pressure

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