Hospitals criticised for child care

HEALTH chiefs in Essex have pledged to improve the standard of care being delivered to children after a report showed “consistent low performance” in many areas.

Elliot Furniss

HEALTH chiefs in Essex have pledged to improve the standard of care being delivered to children after a report showed “consistent low performance” in many areas.

The report, published by the Healthcare Commission, detailed progress by 154 NHS trusts since it last reviewed services for children in 2005-6.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, known as the Essex Rivers NHS Healthcare Trust in 2005-06, was found to be a consistently low performer in 13 of the 19 categories.

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The trust was criticised for its poor performance in carrying out life support training for paediatric staff and for not giving nurses enough child protection training.

In three areas it was found to be performing at a consistently high standard while two showed improvement since the last review. Performance was shown to have deteriorated in one other category since the last review.

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Medical director Andrew May said there was “much work to do” if improvements were to be made and said a newly-formed paediatric forum would help the situation.

Mr May said: “Parents across north east Essex will be pleased to learn that we have maintained a consistently high performance in some areas and have improved in others.

“However, the report also makes it clear that we have much work to do to improve our performance in some of the indicators the Healthcare Commission looked at.

“We submitted an action plan to the commission at the end of last month and a paediatric forum has been formed, which I chair.

“The forum has responsibility for overseeing the implementation and monitoring of the action plan, and also for the profile of children's services across the organisation.”

The publication of the results revealed that the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust had been unable to provide the commission with many elements of the data needed, leaving nine categories with no rating.

From the information that was available, the trust was found to performing consistently high in three areas, consistently low in a further three and had made improvements in another three categories. One area had shown deterioration.

Anna Walker, the commission's chief executive, said the follow-up review showed there had been improvements across the board in many areas but more work was clearly needed.

She said: “Children are not 'mini adults'. They can't always articulate their symptoms or level of pain and some illnesses that affect children are rarely seen in adults.

“That's why it is so important that staff are equipped with the skills and training they need to assess and treat children.”

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