Suffolk/East: Ambulance chiefs probe into five deaths in one month where delays were recorded
AMBULANCE bosses are investigating five serious incidents in one month where delays were recorded and patients died - including a child.
The East of England Ambulance Service board will discuss the cases at a meeting in Norwich today.
Among the five patients who died was a child who suffered “paediatric cardiac arrest”.
Health minister and Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter said he is “very concerned because of long-standing problems at the trust”.
But an ambulance spokeswoman said detailed reporting of serious incidents allows the trust to learn from what has happened, while stressing patient safety is an important priority.
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Board papers reveal in March there were nine serious incidents reported – five of which involved the death of a patient – up from four in February and two in January.
The document states: “Five of the nine SIs (serious incidents) are known to have involved a patient death, but it is important to consider this in the context that we may not have been the causative factor for these deaths but have a part to play in the investigation.
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“Delay incidents are still the highest type of Serious Incidents and clinical assessment incidents are the second highest type reported.”
Dr Poulter said he hopes measures being introduced by the new management team, with the help and guidance of the Department of Health (DoH), will result in more investment in the frontline and as such fewer serious incidents in future.
“One of the main problems has been the fact that the previous management team failed to invest adequately in the front line and we know that has had a detrimental consequence for patients, particularly stroke patients and the elderly.
“The good news is the DoH put in place a turnaround team who are working with the trust to get them back on track.
“But the fact we have had these serious incidents serves as a reminder that there is a long way to go and the scale of the task.
“When bad things happen it is important to learn from them, that is what good health care is about.
“It is important the trust listen to the DoH recommendations and work to reduce the number of serious incidents with more emphasis on the front line in the future.”
The ambulance spokeswoman said: “The trust is looking forward under Andrew’s leadership and our investment in staffing and resourcing will, as Dr Poulter says, contribute greatly in enhancing patient care, safety and clinical excellence.
“In the case of SIs we’re not at liberty to give any more information on individual cases or their exact geographical location because of the potential risk of identifying the people concerned.
“However, the ultimate aim of reporting incidents is so that the trust can learn from what has happened and improve the quality of the care we provide, through preventing similar incidents happening again.
“Patient safety is extremely high on the trust’s agenda and improving clinical quality is one of the five Improvement Priorities for 2013/14.
“Significant change will occur in the coming months to support this and we are improving the management of serious incidents to ensure more timely, quality investigations with effective learning.
“We are also developing a Patient Safety Strategy and Campaign, to focus on improving the quality of care we give to all our patients and to ensure staff are engaged and involved in ensuring our patients are safely cared for.”